Veteran South Fla Journalist Jumps Into Politics




Veteran South Florida journalist Nick Sortal wants a new gig — city commissioner.

Currently The Miami Herald’s gaming columnist with his own website and a three-decades long Sun-Sentinel veteran, Sortal has filed papers to run for the Plantation City Commission Group 1 in November.

There are four other candidates in Group 1. They are Erik Anderson, Randall Fernandes, Joseph Gianino and Rico Petrocelli. Petrocelli is a former commissioner.

Sortal obviously has seen the Plantation commission in action. He says that if elected, his journalism career will help him to calm the combative meetings:

“The tone of discourse in Plantation has mirrored what we have seen across the country and hurts my heart. My journalism career was centered on listening to everyone respectfully and hearing every point of view. I’d like to do that now for a city I love.

“Because I am experienced with not only traditional media, but social media, I will help us effectively reach every resident. Hey, I love reading the newspaper, but that’s not where every single person receives his/her information any more.”

Personal disclosure: I worked with Sortal and his spouse Robyn at the Sun-Sentinel for decades. During all that time, he never told me he harbored a love of politics.

Gaming, yes. Politics, never.


Nick and Robyn Sortal


So I was very interested in why he is running:

“I moved to Broward County in 1985 to start what would be a 30-year run as a writer and an editor at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. When I married my lovely bride, Robyn, in 1993, I moved to Plantation. Within a year I considered myself ‘a Plantation guy.’

“I had my Publix for shopping, Central Park for swimming, jogging and basketball, good schools and a nice home in central Plantation, Quatraine II. But most importantly, I had a great collection of new friends and acquaintances.

“Everyone seemed to like it here, and why not? We’re in the center of the county, so nothing is too far away. Everything is green and well-maintained. Our city government, while there certainly are plenty of points of discussion and improvement, has run relatively smoothly and scandal-free.

“But I think we can do better, and that’s where I come in. My thoughts from 30,000 feet are that I will bring a set of higher expectations to our city government.

“The challenges I see are how to best spend our money, how to balance commercial growth without smothering the city and how to keep our city safe with the efficient police, fire, emergency service and hurricane preparations.

“And that’s where I’m grateful for my experience as a journalist. The No. 1 thing good journalists do is listen; we gather information from all sides, and we understand that issues become issues because there is more than one point of view to things. Through my years, I wrote some things people may not have liked, but they always gave this feedback.

“‘At least you listened and you were fair.’

“I’ll do the same thing as a city councilman.

“My wife and I moved to Jacaranda Lakes in 2001 and even though our three children have long left our house, we’re not about to downsize and go anywhere else. We drive by the schools our children attended – Central Park, Peters Elementary, Plantation Middle, Plantation High and American Heritage – and we see people who are a part of the city. We also see them in malls, restaurants, parks and just walking their neighborhood. People here care. Including me. Especially me.

“I’m off-the-charts eager to dive in and help make a very good city a great one. Please come along with me and help me reach that privilege.”


Nick Sortal can be found on Facebook, at his campaign website here or at

10 Responses to “Veteran South Fla Journalist Jumps Into Politics”

  1. Deb says:

    We DO live in Plantation! Where do I get my yard sign?
    Nick will be a great addition to the city government.


    E-mail him. The address is in the story.

  2. Mike Mayo says:

    Journalists have long held themselves at arms-length from “doing” (instead preferring the measured title of “observer”) even though they are among the most astute, informed and involved citizens in a community. Because of their ability to reach out, see multiple points of view and reason (with a good BS detector), they should make for good jurors, politicians and behind the scene political advisors (see: David Axelrod, who started as a reporter in Chicago). As journalism has shrunk, it’s only natural, and somewhat warming to see former journalists get engaged in politics and activism (lord knows it can’t get any worse). (See: former SS Editor Earl Maucker on LHP City Commish and former Miami Herald publisher Dave Lawrence’s work with children’s movement)

    Good luck Nick. You are a thoroughly decent human being who always wrote and reported from the heart, and your life experiences will serve you well.

  3. Scot says:

    Nick will be a great addition to the Plantation City Commission. As a resident he understands the importance of community and as a reporter he knows how to find out what the real story is. I can not imagine a better qualified candidate than Nick to help move Plantation forward.

  4. Nick Sortal says:

    Thanks, Buddy. Two notes: 1.) I spent most of my career in community news, as an editor, writer and sports editor. That included 10 years in the south office, where I saw John Flint shape Weston and Fekete-Ortis-Dodge handle booming Pembroke Pines. Fasciniating. And 2.) I’m still not interested in politics; I AM interested, passionately, about public service.

  5. Hometown Kid says:

    Erik Anderson should win this seat hands down. He was raised in Planation and is a former Broward County Principal of the Year as principal at Tropical Elementary. He is loved by his teachers, students and parents. He has the budgetary understand for the job and the people skills to manage an election.
    Thank you Mr Anderson for being willing to serve our community not just as principal but as commissioner !

  6. S.G. says:

    As a plantation resident, my main concern has long been the overdevelopment of our green city. Commercial growth is not as large of a concern to me as is residential growth. ‘Plantation One’ was the first sign that things in Planation were heading south.
    In his comment #4 Mr. Sortal mentions Ortis and Dodge, saying it was “fascinating” what they did. What was fascinating about what they did in P.P. is nothing short of turning their backs on their residents. If that’s the type of attitude and leadership you will bring to Plantation, no thanks. Distance yourself from the developer class politicians, they are self serving, and only looking out to get a building named after themselves.

  7. Michael Rappaport says:

    I have a slightly different perspective. I worked with Nick in the mid 1980s in St. Louis, and while I would never have expected him to become a gaming columnist, he and I played in the same poker game every Sunday night.

    He is a fine man with a good sense of humor who managed to escape our sinking ship for the better job in a wonderful place. I can say without reservation that he would be a wonderful addition to your city commission.

    I am retired and living south of Atlanta now. I would love it if we had men (and women) as good as Nick in our city government.

  8. Plantation Lifer says:

    Anything rumored as to whether the current Mayor will be running again for reelection?

  9. Louise P. says:

    Congratulations to Nick, I am sure he will make us all proud.

  10. Jack McCluskey says:

    Nick: You are a true believer, politics is all about public service. You’ll do well! Too bad we don’t live in Plantation. You and Robyn are truly great people, it was a pleasure working with both of you.