The Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum debate for the three candidates who are running for Mayor of Hollywood at the Hollywood Beach Community Center last month. Michael Putney served as the moderator for the debate.

Patricia Asseff, who is now serving on the Hollywood Commission for District One said the City government needs to be very resilient in approaching its issues. She believes everyone who cares about Hollywood should come together and work as team. Asseff believes she would make a good mayor because of her work as a civic activist, community leaders and business person. She is past president and a current board member for the Broward League of Cities. She has been a leader of many civic organizations. “I have a passion for Hollywood and I love the City. I grew up in Hollywood and raised my family here,” she said.

Asseff is promoting herself as someone who knows the inner workings of City Hall. She believes it is important for a mayor to network with large business organizations that could locate to Hollywood. She wants to create a team atmosphere and bring various elements of Hollywood leadership together. She wants to unify the districts of the City. She believes her leadership skills will allow her to create teams that will address problems in Hollywood such as the budget problem, high pension costs and the decline in property values. Asseff wants to see more positive business development on the City’s main corridors.

Josh Levy, an attorney and a leader in his family business, Hollywood Kia has been a member of the Hollywood Planning and Development Board, president of a large civic organization and a leader in many civic organizations. Levy believes that if more business is brought to Hollywood, the tax base will be increased and this will mean a better life for all Hollywood residents.

“We need to bring up property values, make the process of getting building permits more efficient and make Hollywood a more attractive place to run a business. This will mean more money for the City of Hollywood,” said Levy.

Levy is very much a businessman and believes that more business development can improve the City dramatically. During the debate and other times, he has said that businesses suffer because the process for getting a building permit is too inefficient and cumbersome. He added this may have led to some homeowners not getting required building permits for construction and renovation projects on their properties. He wants to make this process more efficient and he believes this will encourage needed development in Hollywood. He wants to improve the city’s infrastructure. Levy believes that if more businesses could be encouraged to locate their operations on the major business corridors in Hollywood, more money would be generated for the City’s tax base.  Also, employees of these businesses would have more money to spend in Hollywood. Levy also wants to see improvements to the City’s schools and want to encourage new ideas for education. He wants to encourage stronger relationships with the Broward County School Board.

Eleanor Sobel is currently serving as a Florida Senator for District 33 in Broward County. She serves as the Chair of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. She has been a Hollywood commissioner, state representative and Broward County School Board member. Sobel said her most important priority would be supporting public safety. “We need to beef up community policing and make sure our police and firefighters are respected,” she said. Sobel wants to encourage community policing. She believes that if the police officers are familiar with the people in the neighborhoods they serve, there will be less likelihood of severe incidents involving police and civilians.

Sobel has a background in education and wants to bring more funding to Hollywood. She believes in traditional schools and says that charter schools take away needed resources from traditional schools.  She also wants to look for ways to improve the City’s infrastructure and look for ways to encourage more business development in Hollywood. Sobel believes she could bring government funding to the City because of her knowledge and contacts with higher levels of government. She wants to help public servants as much as possible. She wants to encourage community policing in the neighborhoods. She considers herself to a strong and experienced leader.

Overall, the candidates all want to improve the City. They all want to encourage business development and to improve the city’s infrastructure. They know the city is showing signs of age and want to encourage property owners to make improvements. The candidates know the City is having financial difficulties and hope that by improving the City’s business atmosphere, more money can be raised. Little was said about addressing long term problems involving pension and healthcare costs. The candidates believe the City can be improved. They all believe they are the ones to lead those improvements.