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Anthony Caggiano: Pros and Cons City Commission Seat 3 by: Margatenews.net
October 22, 2014
Anthony Caggiano: Pros and Cons City Commission Seat 3
October 22, 2014| By MargateNews.net
Margate resident Anthony Caggiano is running for city commission Seat 3 in Margate against incumbent Le Peermanand CERT Planning Chief, Eddie DeCristofaro. Following are pros and cons of voting for Caggiano the way we see it at MargateNews.net. _________
Pros: In a society that prizes education as the gateway to innovation, critical thinking and progress, Caggiano brings a college degree to the table. His Bachelor’s in economics will be a boon to city leadership when approving the city’s $50 million-plus general fund budget and adjoining expenditures.
If elected, Caggiano willd be the fourth college graduate on the dais. This raises the bar for the city commission and electorate.
In line with his economics ethos, Caggiano believes the city needs to live fiscally within its means. Instead of reducing taxes by lowering the millage rate, the city should grow reserves to meet infrastructure demands. Water and wastewater lines are 50-years old and need replacing. It is either “save for a rainy day” or borrow money to do it - the latter unappealing to a city entrenched in bond debt.
Caggiano recognizes the need to address the skyrocketing cost of insuring city workers. He’s in favor of continuing to provide excellent health insurance to employees, but believes the city needs to look closer at reducing costs. In the past two years alone costs for health insurance have increased more than $1 million.
Caggiano wants to stop the out-migration of youth from Margate. “In Margate we are actually raising our kids to leave,” he said in a Sun-sentinel interview. Married with an 8-year-old daughter, Caggiano said the city has no high school, and thus no high school sports, which in other cities is an epicenter of morale for city youth. Additionally, Margate public schools are Title 1 and geared toward minimum proficiency. This means underperforming kids are bussed into Margate while Margate’s high achieving youth are bussed out. He accepts the fact that the public school system is run by the county, he said, but its Margate commissioners who people elect to be their “dog in the fight” and work with school board officials to improve educational standards for children who live in the City.
Similar to most who pay taxes in Margate, Caggiano is disappointed with the inaction by elected officials to move downtown Margate development forward. He doesn’t want to build in haste, he said, but the land had been vacant for nearly eight years. While commissioners say they know what they want for downtown, none have motioned to build anything. The current city commission has one member with building experience and three without business experience, leaving residents with a void that Caggiano can fill. He is a sales manager by profession and serves on the City’s Planning and Zoning Board.
Like DeCristofaro, Caggiano casts a no confidence vote on RMA (Redevelopment Management Associates), the firm hired to development a master plan for downtown Margate.
“The reality is that we have nothing. What RMA has given the city is a new logo, tagline and a bunch of pretty pictures of how they would like our downtown to look. They have nothing else to show for the $170,000 plus dollars that the city has given them. The City Commission recently showed their confidence in RMA and extended their contract. I would have shown them the door and spoken to our City Planner about how to move the downtown issue forward,” he told the paper.
Caggiano wants the City and its Community Redevelopment Agency to focus more on sprucing up entrances to Margate neighborhoods and to continue pressuring non-compliant residents and businesses to maintain properties.
“My only agenda is to make Margate a more respected place and a more inclusive community. This in turn will increase property values and the city's desirability as a place to live,” he said.
Though Caggiano agrees Margate parks need work, he bucked the idea of spending thousands of dollars to hire a consultant to develop a parks master plan - a task city staff should do in-house. “The Parks and Recreation Director knows what’s wrong with the parks. Hire a crew and fix them,” he said.
As part of improving city parks, Caggiano said he would like to see the city do a better job of promoting youth athletics - like in the city’s heyday.
Caggiano is an Eagle Scout. The rank is very difficult to achieve and is exemplary of diligence, persistence, follow through and leadership by all who pursue it. In the last 100 years only 2.7 million Americans have achieved it. This accomplishment, along with a college education, shows voters that Caggiano commits to finishing what he starts and is well-equipped academically to fill the shoes of commissioner.
Importantly, Caggiano is not afraid to ask difficult questions of city staff. A trait some commissioners are short on. This results in sloppy decision-making, bad policies and under-informed constituents.
Cons: Like other candidates and commissioners Caggiano speaks to developing Margate’s multi-cultural strengths. It is our position that Margate is obviously diverse and multi-cultural and that government involvement in this area is misguided and unnecessary. If native-born Americans want a multi-cultural experience, they need to learn a few more languages. Otherwise, Margate is dense with Asians, South and Central Americans, South Africans, Canadians and Island folk. By some estimates, Broward County is home to 200 diverse cultures that thrive on their own.
A board member on the Margate Chamber of Commerce, Caggiano wants to grow the organization alongside the City’s own economic development initiatives. Our position here is similar to statements we made regarding DeCristofaro: The Chamber of Commerce should act and operate separate from city government to ensure aspects of free enterprise. Presently, both the City and CRA contribute limited funds to Chamber of Commerce activities, which could present a conflict of interest for Caggiano if elected.
It is also our position that the city needs to focus more on the quality of life of residents and less on business and economic development. Cities don’t exist for businesses. Cities exist for people. Grow a strong citizenry and businesses will follow.
Caggiano likes to talk - and talk, and talk and talk. He is a wonderful conversationalist but if elected will need to focus on effective, persuasive speak. It’s time the city is staffed with elected officials who speak succinctly and to the point. Presently, rambling is a bad habit on the dais with commissioners beating topics to death, which causes confusion and leads to stalemates and inaction.
*The above article includes the views and opinions of MargateNews.net, its Editor and Publisher