Sun-Sentinel Calls Fort Lauderdale Election Challenge A “Direct Attack On Democracy,” If So, Why Didn’t John Herbst Campaign Consultant Judy Stern Change The City Charter?

John Herbst, left, with Judy Stern and Wee Steve Bousquet

Earlier this week, two residents used the process set forth in City of Fort Lauderdale Charter to challenge the qualifications of District 1 Commission candidate John Herbst. The Charter requires a commissioner to be a resident of the City for six months prior to the election. Ken Keechl, a Democrat, and Chris Williams, a Republican, filed affidavits claiming Herbst did not meet the six month requirement.

Under the City Charter, the challenge will be heard by the City Commission. Even though the process set forth by the City Charter has been followed, Steve Bousquet and his merry band of Sun-Sentinel Opinion Makers™️ called the challenge a “direct attack on democracy.”

The Sun-Sentinel wrote, “To subvert the will of the voters is outrageous.” Bousquet seems particularly peeved that the men to fired Herbst from his city job will now decide his electoral fate. “If Trantalis voted to disqualify Herbst, it will lack all credibility with Fort Lauderdale voters,” the paper wrote. “Herbst won. His opponents should get over it.”

It sounds like something the Herbst campaign would say.

Before the election, Herbst told REDBROWARD that Democrat lobbyist Judy Stern was running his campaign. REDBROWARD has questioned the ties between Stern and Sun-Sentinel Opinion Editor Steve Bousquet.

When they endorsed him, Bousquet and Co. wrote how Herbst recognized the danger posed by lobbyists at City Hall. “We need to recognize the influence of lobbyists who push bad projects on our neighborhoods,” Herbst told the Sun-Sentinel.

Despite the myriad of lobbyists working in Fort Lauderdale, Herbst and Bousquet singled out land use attorney Stephanie Toothaker. Herbst said Toothaker “has her thumb on the scale,” a saying used to described cheating. The Sun-Sentinel even asked Herbst’s opponent, Ken Keechl for his opinion on Toothaker.

One lobbyist never mentioned in the endorsement is Judy Stern. The controversial Stern has been a fixture in Fort Lauderdale for decades. Stern is listed a registered lobbyist in the City of Fort Lauderdale for four companies: Suntex Marinas, The Corradino Group, Skanska USA and Garth Business Solutions.

Just before the election, Bousquet penned another story about John Herbst. It was more love letter than news report.

Bousquet wrote, “While other candidates rely on canned, phony text messages that could have come from a car dealer, or slick direct-mail attacks that are half-true at best and usually end up in the trash, Herbst is out there in the flesh with his dog Chester, walking Bayview Drive and tweeting about it.”

Did Bousquet, who lives in Tallahassee, speak with Judy Stern about the challenge?

If an election challenge is really a “direct attack on democracy,” then Judy Stern is someone who can change that.

Judy Stern is a current member of the Fort Lauderdale Charter Revision Commission. Judy Stern has been on the commission since the early 2000s. In 2017, Judy Stern was the chairwoman of the charter revision commission when the section dealing with candidate qualifications was discussed.

Why didn’t Judy Stern protect democracy in Fort Lauderdale!!!

Oh yeah, that’s right. Democracy is not under “direct attack” in Fort Lauderdale. Judy Stern and her cronies just want you to think it is.

Shame on them.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story misidentified Chris Williams as a Democrat. Mr. Williams is a Republican. We regret the error.

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