An easy target: Political attacks focus on the West side of town
Hallandale Beach’s Vice Mayor battles political attackers who misunderstand the meaning of community.
By Andrew Markoff
Why do they call this thing The Westside Gazette, anyway? What is it about the West side?
In Hallandale Beach, it’s the East side that has the horse racing, the dog racing, the slot machines and casinos as well as generations of attentions from elected city officials and city management. For years, developers clamored to build strip malls and office buildings and more and more condominium towers with some kind of vicinity to the water.
Meanwhile, in the West side of town where many Hallandale Beach residents grew up and then raised families of their own right in their neighborhoods, an old cemetery had been laid out forlorn until recent tending and attention.
Buildings that had once been locales of entertainment and retail now sit abandoned or underutilized. Streets had gotten littered, swales have been weed-infested and drugs and crime had become a pervasive problem. Families that sent their kids to the three public schools within the four and a half square miles of Hallandale Beach have struggled in a mostly service economy in South Florida. Wages never rise as steadily as the taxes, fees and costs of living throughout the state and in the nation.
But, there’s progress. There’s a lot of progress, though much of it had been very slow in developing. Community leaders and heads of households met with elected officials and city management staff to work on plans. They saw drawings, discussed the neighborhood’s potential, created a vision and began to see some of it implemented. The economy collapsed by 2008, of course, and ideas for development had been sidelined. But community leadership has strived to shed a new light on the West side of town and bring in fresh ideas.
One figure in the Hallandale Beach community had made an impact in creating a congregation for his ministry and positions of influence in his neighborhood and at city hall. He later became a focus of the mayor and of city commission. Pastor Anthony Sanders had been recommended to the mayor when a commission vacancy needed to be filled.
Pastor Sanders was known to city officials as a man who strived to bring common sense and a hopeful vision to his community and to ensure that plans were developed for the West side that met the expectations of neighborhood residents. He had been perceived as both a man of integrity and as a man of action.
In addition to his church, Higher Vision Ministries, Pastor Sanders and his wife, Jessica created a non-profit entity called Eagle’s Wings. The non-profit endeavor provided job preparation and social services in Hallandale Beach. They had both worked closely with the city to target the needs of its residents and improve lives and give hope.
Pastor Sanders had been appointed to the city commission prior to his election just a few years ago, and he currently serves as Vice-Mayor of the City of Hallandale Beach. He was the first African-American to sit on the city commission in a few years thanks to Mayor Joy Cooper’s nomination of him for his interim appointment, but he is the first commissioner from the West side of town in an awfully long time. Before his appointment had even been considered, the Pastor had been in negotiations with the city to sell the Eagle’s Wings property, which would be the last remaining parcel within a development plan spanning blocks of properties on the West side of town.