Tag Archives: Ken keechl

Mayor Dean Trantalis Asks FL Attorney General Ashley Moody To Help With Fort Lauderdale Commission Challenge

Mayor Dean Trantalis letter to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody

On Friday, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody seeking an advisory opinion on “a matter of some urgency for my community.” Trantalis is referring to a challenge brought against District 1 commission candidate John Herbst. On November 14th, two of Herbst’s opponents, Ken Keechl and Chris Williams, submitted affidavits claiming Herbst was not a resident of District 1 six months prior to the election as required by the Fort Lauderdale City Charter. Under the charter, any elector can submit a challenge which must be heard by the City Commission.

With such a hearing set for December 6, 2022, Trantalis asked Moody to provide guidance on legal matters. “At the heart of this matter rests interpretation of the state Constitution, state statute and recent state court decisions,” Trantalis wrote.

Calling the election protest “unprecedented,” Trantalis told Moody, “Like yourself and Gov. DeSantis, I believe we have a serious and important obligation to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

“Our residents need faith that the rules of the election process are clearly followed,” Trantalis wrote.

Hoping to render a “valid outcome,” Trantalis asked Moody for an advisory opinion of several issues:

  • Herbst masking his address by using an exemption under state law for law enforcement officials.
  • A definition of residency using updated state law and recent state court opinions.
  • How much weight to give a homestead exemption in determining the residency of a candidate.
  • Whether an individual can seek elected office in one location while maintaining a homestead in another location.

The four page letter obtained by REDBROWARD also included facts surrounding the challenge as well as citations to court cases.

The Mayor provided a copy of the affidavits to General Moody.

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.