BY BUDDY NEVINS
County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin’s biggest re-election problem is perception.
There is widespread speculation that she is the target of a multi-agency investigation into corruption.
Fighting rumors is like trying to box against smoke.
Soon it looks like Wasserman-Rubin will have more substantial opponent –Pembroke Pines County Commissioner Angelo Castillo.
Castillo sees an opening in the rumors swirling around Wasserman Rubin.
It is widely expected that Castillo will soon announce he is running for Wasserman Rubin’s southwest Broward County county commission seat.
I talked to Castillo over the weekend. He was non-committal.
Wasserman-Rubin has been distracted by the extensive government probe into government conduct. Agents are said to be looking into her throwing favors to her husband’s client, the community of Southwest Ranches.
She already paid a $15,000 civil fine in 2008 for violating state ethics laws related to voting for a grant for Southwest Ranches that her husband wrote.
Wasserman-Rubin has been largely uninvolved in recent months in the key decisions at the government center.
In contrast, Castillo is eager to move up to the county’s Government Center. He would be involved. He has some really interesting ideas which he will unroll during a campaign.
He deserves consideration by every voter.
Castillo is a non-practicing lawyer who has spent a lifetime as a top government official, i.e., a bureaucrat. He is currently president and CEO of Broward House, an AIDS patient housing facility and awareness center in Fort Lauderdale.
There are downsides to a Castillo campaign. One is his connections to lobbyist Judy Stern. His wife works for Stern.
He immediately picks up all Stern’s enemies and that is an extensive list.
I’m convinced that although Stern would has ready access to Castillo, he is independent.
The second downside is opposition from Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis. The two Pines pols are political opponents.
Some insiders believe that Ortis would find somebody to jump into the commission race just to thwart Castillo.
Some say that Pembroke Pines Commissioner Iris Siple should consider the race.
There is a Republican in the race–chain store administrator Christopher Max Ziadie. But this is a heavily Democratic district and it would be the fight between Wasserman-Rubin and her Democratic opponents like Castillo that would most likely decide the outcome.
Meanwhile, Wasserman Rubin is no pushover. She has been in office the School Board and then the commission in 2000 for almost two decades. She has a lot of friends.
It will be an interesting battle.