Wasserman-Rubin Will Quit Commission; Castillo, Others Looking At Race


Battered by illness and allegations of corruption, County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin is not running for re-election.

Diana Wasserman-Rubin

“She realized she was in no shape to face a difficult campaign,” said a friend of Wasserman-Rubin. “I talked to her this morning and she is at peace.  She made the decision all by herself.  Nobody forced her to do anything.”

Wasserman-Rubin, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, told friends that she realizes she has limited time to enjoy her children and grandchildren.

Wasserman-Rubin’s departure leaves the field open for Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo to run in the fall for the southwest Broward seat.

Barbara Sharief, who lost a race against Wasserman-Rubin in 2006 and was elected to the Miramar City Commission last year, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

The district is one-third black which would give Sharief, who is black, a base.  It is another one-third Hispanic, which would help the Cuban-American Castillo.

But one part of Castillo’s city base — Century Village of Pembroke Pines — lies outside of Wasserman-Rubin’s district.

Another possible candidate: Steve Geller.  The former Senate minority leader is running against Sue Gunzburger in her largely east Broward seat, but could make the switch easily to this open seat.

The announcement today caused lobbyists and those doing business with the county to shutter. They will soon be asked for huge contributions to fund a new campaign.

Political consultants say if there is a race for the largely Democratic seat,  the spending could reach $500,000 to $1 million in the primary depending on how many candidates jump in.

On the postivie side for campaign contributors, Wasserman-Rubin will return what’s left of the $158,000 she collected for her re-election.

The 63-year-old county commissioner resisted leaving the Government Center because of her need for health insurance. Sources say she often appeared ill at the Government Center in the past few years.

Wasserman-Rubin is also under investigation by authorities for voting on grants that her husband wrote for Southwest Ranches.  Those allegations surely would have been dragged into what would then become a combative re-election campaign.

In recent weeks, a quiet push by supporters of Castillo convinced Wasserman-Rubin  to give up her quest for another term.

A supporter of Castillo told me at a fund raising event in March: “It is time for her to get out.”

For the past year, friends of Wasserman-Rubin have been calling potential employers, seeking alternative jobs for the commissioner. 

This morning one told me that she would be applying for COBRA health insurance until she obtained work.

The departure of Wasserman-Rubin is the end of an era in Broward politics.  She was one of the first Hispanics to be elected and the first Hispanic Broward mayor.

A Havana-born Democrat, she was first a member of the South Broward Hospital District Board in the 1980s.  In 1987, she became the first woman to be chair of the board.

At the same time, she was one of the first Hispanic activists in Broward, which had a growing Hispanic population in the 1980s.  She was a president and founder of the local Hispanic Unity and served four years on the school system’s District Advisory Council.

She moved up to the School Board in 1988, as the first Hispanic female every elected countywide.  She replaced Lori Parrish, who won a seat on the county commission.

Her initial priorities on the School Board included improving the curriculum through innovative programs, boosting discipline, fighting the high school dropout rate through early intervention, providing alternative programs for expelled students, upgrading education in middle schools and providing adequate schools and classrooms to cope with an expanding number of students.

In 2000, Wasserman-Rubin was elected to the county commission to represent southwest Broward.  In 2002, she became Broward’s first mayor and, of course, first Hispanic mayor.

Through her public career she kept the name of her first husband,  divorce lawyer Jeffrey Wasserman. Their messy and highly publicized split in 1993  left her with thousands of dollars worth of legal bills.

She later married planner Richard Rubin and tacked on his name.  

It is Rubin that has gotten her in trouble.

According to The Miami Herald:

“In January, Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy revealed that his office was investigating ‘the business dealings of Commissioner Wasserman-Rubin and that subpoenas have been issued.’

“The subpoenas seek records over a 10-year period involving Richard Rubin, the commissioner’s husband. Rubin has done planning or grant-writing work for several Broward cities, though he no longer does work in the county. In 2008, Wasserman-Rubin paid a $15,000 civil penalty and restitution for violating state ethics laws after voting for a grant her husband wrote.”

10 Responses to “Wasserman-Rubin Will Quit Commission; Castillo, Others Looking At Race”

  1. The Great Seer says:

    My prediction is that Steve Geller will switch from running against Sue Gunzburger to this race. He will split the vote with Castillo and Barbara Sharief will be the new commissioner.

  2. Why says:

    Geller would look like a totally craven politician switching races at this point. He would be admitting his polls were phony and that he couldn’t beat Gunzburger

  3. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Diana will truly be missed but her health and just living an enjoyable life without the entire County breathing down her neck, will extend her life. Buddy you wrote a really nice and truthful piece….the one Norm wrote is twisted.

  4. Sage says:


    She did the crime and you watched it happen. You and your green initiatives, wrapped in sheep’s clothing, will bring you down too. I applaud your committment to a friend…but one can tell a lot about a Bounty Hunter by the company “he” keeps…

  5. CuriousO says:

    it is Richard who brought her down. Alas, Diana, you were one of the best.

  6. Mark says:

    I guess it is very courageous of her to come up with such decision. nonetheless, there are many ways of serving the people other than being in a position

  7. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    Sage yout have no freaking idea who I am and I certainly don’t have a penis….So get over yourself. Signed Diana true friend til the end.

  8. The Real Truth says:

    not running doesn’t stop the investigation Diana..we all remember how you started corrupt at the hospital district. compounded it at the school board and then reached the pinnacle of slime at the county commission..the investigations will not stop now sweet cheeks

  9. shekfu says:

    diana was and is as straight a shooter as a pol can be…will miss her

  10. nottinamazesme says:

    There are several countrywide research labs being conducted on Parkinson’s. I hope they find something positive soon, not only for Diana, who was far too young for this, but for the millions suffering from this illness. I wish her all the very best in her retirement. May she find the rest she needs to gather up her strength. She was always a lady in every sense of the word and served her people well. She always has a ready smile, is warm, caring, and listens to the people’s issues. You’ll be missed, Diana! God bless!