New GOP Leadership Battles For Big Prize: Plantation


Broward Political Myth Number One: Broward’s city races are non-partisan.

Take the Plantation mayor’s race.

Yes, there will be no party ID on the ballot in March.

Yet, Democrats are backing candidate Diane Veltri Bendekovic. The Republicans are working hard for Jerry Fadgen.

The Plantation mayor’s race is the first big test for new GOP Chairman Richard DeNapoli’s refashioned party organization.

He’s in a win-win situation.

If Fadgen wins, he can take some of the credit which isn’t a bad way to start out as chairman.  If Fadgen loses, he can blame the numbers because  Plantation is a Democratic city.

There are about 28,000 Ds, compared to 15,000 Rs and 11,000 independents in Plantation.

Republicans have candidates in five other cities, according to a card passed out by Mitch Ceasar’s Democratic Party leadership.  It is clearly the Fadgen race the GOP wants to bag.

The prize is the last big city strong mayor in Broward. Whoever gets the job, runs the city.

“It would be a very important win, DeNapoli conceded. “It’s one of the only strong mayors left. We’d be very happy if Jerry wins.

The Republican website Red Broward has been beating the drum for Fadgen, calling for campaign volunteers.  Fadgen served with and often voted with the GOP’s new Executive Director Rico Petrocelli, a former Plantation commissioner.

The past few years haven’t been good to the Republicans on a municipal level.  GOP-heavy Fort Lauderdale is in the hands of Democrats.  So are many of the other coastal city seats once the stronghold of Republican strength.

These coastal areas still vote Republican in partisan races where the party ID appears on the ballot.  The party let some of the non-partisan positions slip away.

However, municipal races are very hard for parties to do more than raise money and donate volunteers.  Fadgen may have an advantage here because the zealous Tea Party types are backing him.  Democrats fear these dedicated right-wingers will work, work, work for Fadgen.

The Fadgen Story

Fadgen is an all-American story.  Orphaned at an early age, he lived in three orphanages and four foster homes before joining the military.  He then went to Duquesne University and eventually became a CPA. His office is on West Broward Boulevard.

He is no newcomer to Plantation politics.  He has been a commissioner since 1995, after failed runs for the U. S. and Florida House.

I personally believe he is out of step on some social issues.

He is a strong anti-abortion activist, who feels so passionately about this issue he takes part in demonstrations. He is also opposed to gay rights.

The Bendekovic Story

Bendekovic is a long-time Plantation figure, too.  She’s been a commissioner for 10 years.

She is 100 percent Plantation.

Her father was the late Mayor Frank Veltri, who made the city the desirable destination it is today.

She grew up in Plantation, married a Plantation cop and raised a family in the city. During this time, Bendekovic did volunteer work for just about every notable organization in the city building a network of supporters.

Bendekovic is retired from the public school system.  (Personal disclosure: My wife, also a retired public school educator, donated $75 to Bendekovic’s campaign.)

But some Democrats complain that Bendekovic’s strength her longevity in Plantation is also her weakness.  They complain her campaign strategy is stuck in the past and not as fresh or energetic as Fadgen’s.

In the end, this campaign will be about grass roots, campaigning door-to-door and getting voters to the polls that are identified as supporters.  That takes volunteers, which is where the parties can help.

There is a third candidate, who I consider a very, very extreme long-shot.  I won’t mention his name because he has threatened me and bombarded me with bizarre e-mail.  I don’t need the hassle at this point in my life.

Now for the Political Myth Number Two:  Don’t blindly believe anything you read or hear in the media.  Find out the truth yourself.

Tomorrow, Feb. 8, Tuesday, there are two forums for Plantation candidates.  The Plantation Women’s Club candidate forum at Deicke Auditorium (5701 Cypress Road) starts at noon. The Plantation Acres candidate forum is being held at Volunteer Park (12050 W. Sunrise Blvd), at 7pm.

13 Responses to “New GOP Leadership Battles For Big Prize: Plantation”

  1. Another resident says:

    On a local city level, I think social issues are irrelevant.

    I won’t be going to any forums… watching grass grow while standing in a thunderstorm would probably be more enjoyable. I think at least one of these forums should be set up debate style and let the candidates in each grouping fight it out.

    I have watched many a council meeting and in my opinion Bendekovic lacks the confidence needed to run the city.

    Yes, I’m voting for Fadgen; but this race is very similar to the governor’s race. I feel like I am just picking the best of the worse.

  2. Richard Hass says:

    Plantation is fine the way it is. Diane Veltri Bendekovic knows what is right about Plantation, what should be preserved and what should be changed. Fadgen is controlled by Tea Party nuts.

  3. Plantation Resident says:

    Thanks for pointing this out, Buddy.
    Red Broward has been pushing Jerry for weeks and only recently started crying “foul” when Mitch Ceasar put out his Democratic cheat sheet for the upcoming races.

    Once again, a bit hypocritical on the GOP’s part, as the Dems probably would have stayed on the sideline had it not been for a more organized (and much earlier) effort by the GOP. Fact is, the Dems were a little late to the party in this nonpartisan race, as the GOP had been organizing for a while.

    Having said all that, social issues certainly are relevant in this race. Does our mostly democratic and racially diverse city really want a Mayor who has marched on abortion clinics, believes that homosexuals deserve no protection under the law and voted against a national holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr?

    Jerry is entitled to his beliefs but I want a Mayor running my city who is inclusive, not exclusive. His extremist views will not build consensus, nor will they bring our community together, but rather will drive us apart.
    Diane has my vote on March 8.

  4. Elroy_John says:

    I guarantee that the Broward Young Democrats & many other activists throughout the county are working hard to make sure that Diane is victorious on March 8th!

  5. I'm a blue bird says:

    Check out the candidates in Seat 1. One is a DINO…check to see when she changed parties and ask her about her positions.

  6. Another resident says:

    Social issues are not relevant in a city election as they are not city issues. As far as voting against MLK day, I wish everyone had…. how much does an additional federal holiday cost the taxpayers?

    While aesthetics are important and I’m not implying differently; I want someone concerned with safety and infrastructure, not pretty signage, brick walls etc.

    Problem is, what is a very important election for our city is really a coin flip between 2 mediocre candidates.

  7. Plantation Resident says:

    To Another Resident- I understand your statement that the social issues are not “city issues”and I agree for the most part.

    My point, however, is that a candidate who holds extreme views of any kind, whether it be to the right or the left, will not be good for the city. I have found that those candidates tend to allow their extreme viewpoints to override pragmatism on many important issues.

    You are correct, we do need to be concerned with safety and infrastructure, but aesthetics cannot be overlooked either, it is another piece of the puzzle which makes our city attractive to newcomers.

    We need revenue. Therefore we must continue to attract businesses and individuals into our community with good schools, well-maintained parks,roads and yes, safe neighborhoods.

    Just look to a few of the cities surrounding us and you will realize we are very fortunate to live in Plantation.

    Diane is the only mayoral candidate that sees the whole picture.

  8. Bill Bzdek says:

    Buddy please just come out and say vote for Diane.

    A few facts :

    MRs Bendekovic was a lifelong registered Republican changing parties just prior to her first run in March 2001.

    She was also Diane Bendekovic her whole life morphing to Diane Veltri Bendekovic at the same time .

    Strong Opinion: She has been Mayor Armstrongs handpicked successor from Day 1. Anyone who watches the city controlled comcast(Hello its 2011)or takes the time to go to council would see she is a mouthpiece yes person for the mayor

    no to webcam , no to PAL , no to Nov elections , no to bidding out legal ( LUNNY )

    Yes to dang near anything the Mayor has ever wanted , check the record.

  9. Correction says:

    Correction, Bill, Diane is certainly for PAL- the cleaned up, more organized institution of today that she helped to fight for.

    Our kids deserved better than the organization under your leadership and your two successors. How many tens of thousands of dollars were stolen by one of your Board members and not reported to the police?

    You did a disservice not only to the kids,
    but to your loyal volunteers as well.

  10. Dana Wiley says:

    I couldn’t vote for anyone that is/or was a school teacher in Broward County. I have six kids and frankly most teachers seem to be Woodstock holdovers or politically correct phony’s just trying to get to Tenure. We are city like many that has to make tough financial decisions going forward, you can’t please everyone..

  11. Patriot says:

    To Dana Wiley:
    Dear Dana, maybe you need to get out more but teachers these days arent from the “woodstock era” they are years younger, and WHY,I’ll tell you.. because they are the only people willing to teach spoiled rotten kids of today for a lousy salary that is about to be cut 5%. (Thanks to that a-hole Scott)As for them becoming a teacher for the tenure, you must pull your butt out of your anus once in a while and take a look around. Most teachers have a desire to better the community, to make a difference and have higher ideals. Granted, there are a few bad apples here and there, as with every job or career. These teachers have to listen to some blinded parent lie to them about their little angel that just cheated on the test, or said they read 20 books and they can’t even read one. Maybe some parents should take a little more responsibility in the teaching process of their child and then they wont have deviant children that grow into criminal adults.

  12. Patriot says:

    PS to Dana:
    additionally, when you speak of woodstock, what about these crazy CPA’s crunching numbers, sitting at the computer all day? Fadgen: He is a strong anti-abortion activist, who feels so passionately about this issue he takes part in demonstrations. He is also opposed to gay rights. Humm, so he crunches numbers and is an activist Nazi? My vote is for Diane. As least she will be for the rights of people in the community. Something to think about if you can get out of your bubble.

  13. CT says:

    Dana, parents who show that kind of lack of respect for teachers, breed children who do the same. It’s no wonder that the brightest and best teachers eventually leave the system, for better pay and some much deserved respect. Shame on you.