Update: Handicapping Sheila Alu’s County Commission Race


Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu said Thursday that she is “seriously considering running for Broward County Commission.

Alu had better be “seriously considering long and hard.

She’s no shoe-in.  This will be a tough race.

Redistricting Will Be Key

Alu’s biggest dilemma is she has no idea what northwest Broward’s County Commission District 1 will look like.  It will be reshaped during redistricting before the 2012 election.

Alu’s goal will be to put as much of her Sunrise political base in the district and cut out Lauderhill Vice Mayor Howard Berger. He is already running and has put $80,000 of his own money in the race.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t get a vote.  The County Commission does its own redistricting.

One of her allies in redistricting will be her friend County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman. She now represents northwest Broward’s District 1 and is widely thought to be retiring from politics.

I believe that Alu will also be helped by her long-time campaign consultant Dan Lewis, a professional computer techie who helped the county commission redistrict ten years ago.

If Lewis has any role, it will be opposed by County Commissioner Lois Wexler. Those two are like oil and water.

County Commissioner Stacy Ritter is another opponent who won’t make redistricting easy for Alu.

Whatever happens, Alu will have to introduce herself to a large number of voters in cities outside Sunrise between now and the Democratic primary in 2012.

Money Is Another Key

Raising money will also be a challenge for Alu.  She needs 160 donors with $500 each just to catch up with Berger’s personal loan.

She has made a lot of enemies over the years among developers and big-money insiders.  That may be a good thing for voters and the media, but it makes it harder to fund a campaign.

Experts anticipate an open seat for the county commission could cost easily $500-750,000.  That’s a lot of money to raise, especially when you have a day job as a full-time prosecutor. (Alu says she’ll quit the day job if elected.)

Experience is A Double-Edged Sword

On the plus side, Alu is an experienced, savvy and engaging campaigner.  She is a defender of the environment.  She seems seriously about cutting the cost of government, voting against a pay raise for cops in Sunrise despite the political power of the police union.

She’s a master of getting her views into the media and leaking to reporters, which is a good trait in a politician from a journalists point of view.

(Personal disclosure: She has leaked plenty to me over the years, which I greatly appreciate.)

However, she has a decade of votes as a Sunrise city commissioner. A day searching through old minutes could find plenty of fodder for campaign attack ads.

I can think of two that would make great ads against her:

(1) Her vote to approve a $400,000-plus, no-bid city attorney contract for Stuart Michelson, who is Lieberman’s husband.

(2) Her vote for the abomination called Tao, those two monstrous condos that tower over the Everglades and are totally out of place so close to the Everglades.

The Informer Factor

I can’t write about Alu without mentioning what has gotten her the most publicity:  Her role as an FBI informer.

I know some consider her a hero.

Alu “made headlines in 2009 after revealing she worked as an undercover FBI informant to take down corrupt politicians, in the words of today’s Sun-Sentinel.com.

Alu volunteered to spy on other politicians.  Some were dirty. She introduced some of them to undercover agents and they ended up arresting former School Board member Bev Gallagher for bribery.

But people, especially Americans, are very conflicted about informers.  Open up a Thesaurus and see the synonyms for informer:  squealer, rat, canary, fink, snitch, stool pigeon.

Those are some of the nicer ones.

I believe her role as an informer is politically a wash.

My bottom line:

I truly, truly, truly believe that Alu’s heart is in the right place.  She really wants to do what’s right.

She would make a tough and combative campaigner.  She has a lot of positive on her resume.

But she is no sure thing.

6 Responses to “Update: Handicapping Sheila Alu’s County Commission Race”

  1. Sunrise Resident says:

    Alu’s “friendship” with Ilene Lieberman is all I need to know. How can a prosecutor be friends with someone involved in the investigation of corruption?

  2. Resident says:

    Berger or Alu. Please someone else!!!

  3. Patriot says:

    Hopefully another candidate will run, or she wont run at all. She is sneaky, and that is only one of a long list of her negative traits. She may have a good heart but she is the same cloth as the people she takes down in attempt to glorify herself. She is one of the most self serving political climbers out there. She will go so far as to befriend someone then shoot them in the back to look like a hero, I gag to even use that label attached to her name. Unfortunately, she may run the mile and get her position but in the end the people will pay. She will, mark my words, be one of the names the public is so shocked to hear about being corrupt in the future because they don’t have their eyes open today.
    She is sure an expert at getting her name out there for attention. FBI, please!

  4. Resident says:

    The problem is right now Berger is no better. They are probably two of the least useful elected officials in their cities.

    So someone else is desperately needed.

  5. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Oh this lady again. The more I hear about her, the more I don’t what any part of her. with her connections to the FBI(yeah sure -next). Run “Slippery Sheila” Run

  6. Fetch fido, good boy says:

    There he goes Judy Stern’s hack Robert Walsh going after people Stern doesnt like. You are a fort lauderdale guy Robert what is your beef with Alu? Couldnt have to do with the fact that Dan Lewis runs her campaigns? we know how Stern feels about him.