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3 candidates compete for Sunrise mayoral seat

Roger Wishner draws challenge from attorney Michael Ryan and retired social worker Imogene Ferguson

Sun Sentinel
8:26 p.m. EDT, July 28, 2010

The three-way race for mayor pits a veteran politician against an attorney and a retired social worker, offering voters a stark contrast in style and background.

Incumbent Roger Wishner has a strong rival in attorney Michael Ryan, who has been endorsed by the city's police and fire unions as well as Deputy Mayor Sheila Alu.

Voters will choose their mayor on Aug. 24, nearly two years after ex-Mayor Steve Feren left for the circuit court bench.

As deputy mayor, Wishner stepped into the seat in January 2009. No race was held in March 2009 because the city charter required the mayoral election to be held at the next citywide election more than 120 days after the seat became vacant.

Neither Ryan nor mayoral candidate Imogene Ferguson like the job Wishner is doing as mayor and would have preferred he won the title by election instead of appointment.

"I think we need people on the commission that aren't career politicians," said Ferguson, 66, who recalls struggling to survive on welfare in her 20s.

"Maybe people who are taking care of ailing parents and grandchildren who know what it's like to stretch a dollar."

Ryan, 45, says he decided to run for mayor after city commissioners let business owners pitch a controversial Green Now recycling center that violated city code. The project was rejected after more than 400 opponents, Ryan included, blasted City Hall.

Soon after, Ryan says residents asked him to run.

"I knew if I didn't get involved, I really couldn't complain when I had so many people supporting me," Ryan said.

If elected, Ferguson notes she would be the city's first black mayor. And it's about time, she says. No minority or woman has ever been elected to the mayor's seat in Sunrise, despite the fact that minorities make up 55 percent of the city's population, according to Census figures.

Ferguson lives in the politically active Sunrise Lakes condo community and wants to set an example for her 18 grandchildren.

"I believe we are at a point where the city commission needs to reflect the demographics," she said.

"The city is no longer all white Jewish retirees. The city is booming with families of all kinds of ethnic groups, and they deserve to look up there and see someone they can identify with."

Wishner, 52, owns a document scanning and storage business. He was a Sunrise commissioner from 1987 to 1999 and a state representative from 2000 to 2004. He won re-election to the city commission in March 2007.

Thanks to a quirk in the city charter, Wishner can return to his old commission seat even if he loses the race.

If Wishner returns to his commission seat, he would serve until March 2011, when the term ends. Larry Sofield, appointed to Wishner's vacant seat last year, would lose his spot.

Wishner boasts the largest campaign war chest with $104,000 in contributions, including a $15,000 personal loan. Ferguson has raised $15,000, including a $10,000 personal loan; Ryan has raised $10,000.

Special interest groups are fueling Wishner's campaign, Ryan says. "It's a who's who of lobbyists and developers."

In response, Wishner says he can't be bought when it comes to city issues.


Small Business Initiative

Sunrise, Florida (July 26, 2010): Sunrise Mayoral Candidate Mike Ryan announced today a "Small Business Initiative" meant to promote small business development in the City.

"The City of Sunrise is fortunate, due to infrastructure developed long ago, to be a place where some large businesses want to relocate. However, from my spending so much time with small businesses in the City, I understand why some of our most passionate local entrepreneurs feel the City has forgotten about them," explained Ryan. The proposed "Small Business Initiative" focuses on a City-wide commitment to getting doors opened quicker for responsible businesses, a top-down review of sign ordinances, a central repository for information related to small business programs and assistance, financial breaks where possible for hiring residents, and City support for businesses with longevity and community involvement.

"Ten small businesses can employ as many as people as one large corporate relocation and may employ more City residents because they are not relocating, they are opening. Small businesses generate real jobs, benefits and dollars to our City. But, small businesses come with their own specific challenges," explained Ryan. "As a City, we need to convince entrepreneurs that each and every department within our local government truly wants responsible businesses to open their doors quicker and stay open longer."

Ryan has also proposed the creation of a "Small Business Advisory Board" to advise the Commission about unique issues facing entrepreneurs in the City of Sunrise. This includes partnering with local business owners, as well as some who have closed their doors recently. One such entrepreneur is Mike Jacobs. Last year, the City of Sunrise named Mike Jacobs, "Busilnessman of the Year". Jacobs and his wife's restaurant, "Beef O'Brady's of Sunrise" focused on families, charity, and offering support to teams and schools. However, nine months after receiving the award, their doors closed. For the employees, it meant jobs lost. For the City of Sunrise, it was the loss of real tax dollars and part of growing up in the Sunrise community. For Mike and his family, it was the end of a passionate dream.

"I am proud to endorse Mr. Ryan's Small Business Initiative and look forward to helping out with this," said Mike Jacobs. "Just getting our doors opened was a struggle with the City. Then, staying open was a constant challenge with costs and rules that made it hard to develop business. Mr. Ryan has identified what all small businesses want to see, and that is a concerted effort of the City to sincerely support small business development and growth."

Responding, Ryan explained "I want Sunrise to be a place where small business owners can also live out their dreams. More than just real jobs and real dollars to the City, these small businesses are the neighborhood shops that greet us and know what we like, the places where our children grow, the places that help our young-at-heart, and who make our neighborhoods friendlier. I know we can do better together by being small business friendly."

Ryan's City of Sunrise Small Business Initiative


Sunrise Candidate Spearheading Chinese Dry Wall Suit


Sunrise mayoral candidate Mike Ryan is the lead attorney suing to get money back for home owners ripped off by Chinese Dry Wall manufacturers and distributors.

The current mayor?

Roger Wishner has been in office since Ronald Reagan was president.
Ryan got widespread publicity this week when he sued Miami-based Banner Supply Co., which allegedly distributed tons of the defective dry wall. Whether it helps him in his race for mayor is anybody’s guess.

“Attorney Mike Ryan, of Krupnick Campbell, and Ervin Gonzalez, of Colson Hicks Eidson, are spearheading the lawsuits. Ryan has been appointed as the plaintiffs’ liaison for the Chinese drywall cases for Broward County,” said the South Florida Business Journal.

Sunrise needs change.

Sunrise doesn’t need a career politician like Wishner. It doesn’t needs somebody who’s chummy with the ring of insiders who has made Broward the corruption capital of Florida. Sunrise needs someone with fresh ideas.

Ryan has enough smarts and skills to run a huge class action law suit.

Ryan already had a positive effect on Sunrise. He was a leader in the successful effort to block a garbage dump in western Sunrise which Wishner supported.
Ryan just could be what Sunrise needs.

Sunrise Forum: 6/30/2010

Here is an article from the Sunrise Forum yesterday. We need to fix this problem not only for those small businesses and residents directly impacted now, but for those who could be in the future. I will keep you updated.


Closing the PIll Mill Loophole


Wishner’s woe: Sunrise police, fire unions endorsing Mike Ryan for mayor

> Posted by Brittany Wallman on June 4, 2010 03:20 PM

Staff writer Susannah Bryan reports:
Sunrise Mayor Roger Wishner may be singing the blues.

Mike Ryan, an attorney challenging Wishner in the Aug. 24 mayoral election, has won key endorsements from the city’s police and fire unions.

Unions typically endorse incumbents, but not this time.

Wishner says he lost the endorsement because he didn’t promise union officials the moon.

“They’re not endorsing me because I would not commit to raising taxes to pay for more benefits,” Wishner said. “I told them flat out we need to tighten our belts. And obviously they got a different answer from my opponent.”

Ryan bristled at the claim.

“The only promise I made to them is that I would bring them to the table along with all the other stakeholders to find solutions to the problems we face,” Ryan said.

“Before we raise taxes or cut jobs, we have to make sure we have adopted every reasonable cost-cutting effort. Until we prove we have done everything we can to cut costs at the city, it is irresponsible to start by taking officers and firefighters off the street.”

Police union officials said Ryan never told them he’d raise taxes to save jobs.

“We weren’t promised anything,” said Roger Krege, president of the Sunrise police union. “We picked Mike Ryan because we believe he is the best person to lead the city into the future.”
Fire union President John McNamara said the decision to endorse Wishner’s rival was not personal.

“It’s not about being mad [at Wishner],” McNamara said. “With no disrespect to Mayor Wishner, we feel that Mike Ryan has all the qualities and characteristics to take the city in a different direction.”


Mayor Behind Plan To Pave Everglades Land Since 1987

By Bob Norman, Saturday, May. 22 2010 @ 9:27PM

So how does it happen?

How does a giant ugly giant Marriott Hotel-anchored development get built west of the Sawgrass Expressway on a part of the Everglades that was meant to be an open space park and is now popular with hikers and boaters?

It's done in secret. It's done with lobbyists. It's done with big campaign dollars given to bad politicians. It's done with the help of government cronies and rubber stamps. It's done with fear. And sometimes it's done right in the face of an outraged public.

The aptly named Everglades Corporate Park project has met all those criteria so far, with the final insult planned for the Tuesday night commission meeting. There a majority of derelict commissioners are expected to vote to rezone the development to allow it to ignore the city's -- and I quote -- "development standards, setback requirements, and landscaping standards."

Yes, the city plans to pass a zoning law that says the development won't have to follow the city's laws. And that of course will allow the developer to make its eyesore bigger and uglier.

Two key backers of the plan are duo of Mayor Roger Wishner and CommissioCurrent Mayor Roger Wishnerner Don Rosen. Wishner has been there to support the development almost every step of the way, including the vote in 1987 to quietly change the zoning for the land from park to commercial. Both Wishner and Rosen have both been given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions connected to the developer, Kentucky-based Sawgrass Investors, and its lobbyist, Dennis Mele of Ruden McClosky.

You might remember that Wishner and Rosen were also the two villains in the recent "Green Now" garbage dump controversy that ended with angry citizens cramming city hall and shaming the commission into dropping the dump. The same kind of showdown is set for the Tuesday night meeting, as people are encouraged to stand up against the Everglades incursion.

Leading the opposition, again, will be Commissioner Sheila Alu -- the only elected official on record to denounce the zoning change -- and attorney Michael Ryan, who is running against Wishner and also helped organize the Green Now folks.

"If this is a fait accompli and these people come out and they aren't listened to then there should be serious

consequences for the board," said Ryan. "All the people want is for their voice to be heard. It should be a heavy turnout, but I don't know if it will be as big as Green Now."

Understand this isn't a Sunrise issue -- it's a Broward issue. Hell it's a national issue. Tuesday's meeting will provide an historic chance to take a stand not only for the Glades but against sprawl and sleazy lobbyists and politicians who profit from it.

?Among those in the forefront is the Sierra Club.

"We're strongly opposed to this development," said Club Chair Phil Busey. "Our concern is that this would be the first commercial development on the west side of the Sawgrass Expressway. We really believe that this should be its original designation which is a park and recreation area."

The change for the land from park status to commercial zoning came in a quiet vote back in 1987 that never even made the newspapers. Among the commissioners who made the unanimous vote was none other than Roger Wishner.

Now Wishner -- who himself enjoys the area with his children -- says he has no choice but to support the development because it's already zoned commercial. He always neglects to say that he voted to steal the key piece of Everglades away from its citizens.

When asked by a Channel 6 reporter why he supports the development (and the outrageous zoning designation), Wishner said, ""Because it's their choice. They own the property."

Actually it was Roger's choice 23 years ago. And the mayor continues to support the development, including the outrageous re-zoning that will be voted on Tuesday night.

A small matter of $15,000 obviously influenced his decision. Wishner received that amount in campaign contributions that were connected to the development and its lobbyist Mele in 2008, most of it given to him during a fundraiser at Ruden McClosky's downtown Fort Lauderdale offices in 2008 fundraiser. Wishner's buddy, Rosen, also was given thousands from the same interests.

It's a sell-out and the fix appears to be in. It looks like the city has already given the store away.

[A second part to this will be coming out soon.]


Other Articles

Mike Ryan For Mayor Of Sunrise Press Release [PDF]

Budget Pinches Teachers of Certain Subjects - Sun-Sentinel [PDF]

Children Save Our SROs [PDF]

Klee Article - March 18, 2010 [PDF]

Parklander R4R - October 2009 [PDF]

Sunrise Forum - School Budget Cuts - May 12, 2010 [PDF]

WSVN-TV - City Officials to Discuss Everglades Project [PDF]






Thank you VERY much to all those who donated.

Unfortunately, according to campaign rules, the deadline for campaign donations has passed.


The general election for Mayor of Sunrise will be held on:

AUGUST 24, 2010

Register to Vote HERE

Find Voting Locations HERE