We dropped by a fundraiser for Al Lamberti at Athena by the Sea, a Greek Restaurant at Commercial Boulevard and A1A that's stuck in the same charming but bygone era as the rest of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. We wanted to personally ask for the same face-to-face interview we've gotten with the twoDemocratic candidates, who will face off in the March primary.
No dice on that -- Lamberti said he hadn't decided whether to talk to us on the record -- but we did arrive just in time for the sheriff's short speech to the attendees, each of whom was encouraged to donate up to the maximum allowable $500.
Here's the flier for the event:
"My biggest fear is complacency," said Lamberti, standing on a raised stage in a tweed jacket. "People tell me to always act like I'm 10 percent behind." Still, he and everyone else seemed pretty convinced he would sweep the Democratic contender.
"The good news is, I'm not a politician," said the sheriff, who has been accused in the past of using outlets like Police Women of Broward County and his "Coffee With the Sheriff" events as de facto campaign platforms. "The bad news is, I'm not a politician." People laughed. He summarized: "I wish the election were tomorrow, so I could stop campaigning and go back to being the sheriff."
The sheriff is attempting to set a record by being the first countywide politician to get on the ballot through petitions; last time, he said, his campaign had to spend $11,000 for a spot. The alternative is collecting signed petitions -- 12,000 of them -- and turning them in to the supervisor of elections. He noted that several journalists -- Buddy Nevins, Anthony Man, and Michael Mayo -- had said he wouldn't be able to secure the ballot through petitioning, and he seems determined to prove them wrong.
Petitions were available at a table near the front, as well as "Keep Al Lamberti" bumper stickers. Regarding the latter, Lamberti said, "They're vinyl, not paper, so if you have a BMW or a Ferrari, they'll peel right off in November."
The Pulp approached Lamberti to ask for an interview like the ones we've gotten with Scott Israel and Louis Granteed. Lamberti was reluctant, saying that he felt this paper's past coverage of his office had been inaccurate and biased against him. He cited a few other reasons, including a distaste for the selection of advertisers in our print edition. When the evening's photographer approached, threatening the slight possibility of a picture of Lamberti talking to a New Times reporter, Lamberti reacted with a reflexive "No!"
We'll hope he sees the light. When and if he does stop campaigning and get back to being the sheriff, we should be able to reach him. That's just part of our job. His too.