Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Keith London, who just might be Mayor Joy Cooper's least-favorite person in the
world political arena, is set to challenge her in the November mayoral election.
London has previously called out the mayor for spending wastefully, ignoring residents, and avoiding transparency. The two were involved in a somewhat personal spat over public records, in which London dug up records of Cooper and her son getting into car accidents, and she requested to see all of his emails.
"People have been asking me to run for four years," says London, who has taken up the position of the perennial "no" vote on many issues the mayor brings to the table and who says he'll have no problem fashioning his history of dissent into a leadership role.
Cooper, who has served on the City Commission since 1999, is a past president of the Broward League of Cities and the current president of the Florida League of Cities, from which office she's taken on the quixotic task of publicly lobbying for the increased use of red-light cameras.
London says that these positions, which have allowed Cooper to travel across the state and the country representing Hallandale Beach, actually distract from the task of running city government. "We have a mayor that likes to travel all around the country and the state and go to all these meetings and come back with different ideas and suggestions every two to three weeks but never sees anything to fruition. We need to prioritize three, four, or five goals and work on them."
With any luck, we'll get that quote on the record when Cooper yells at London about it at the next commission meeting. Pressed for specific priorities, London is reluctant to identify any so early in the game but floats the example of a mangrove-planting project he's been advocating for the city's waterways.
Does he anticipate any difficulty translating his role as watchdog and contrarian into positive leadership? "No. Not in any way," London says. "The reason is that we would have a plan, and it wouldn't just be Keith London's plan; it would be a plan amongst the commission that represents the people."
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Adds the 50-year-old, ponytailed commissioner: "The only time in my life when I've had so much difficulty with somebody that you can't bridge the gaps is with Mayor Cooper."
While the internal workings and seedy allegations in the city would be legendary if only they were better-known, long and boring proceedings -- which London also says he'd like to change -- have discouraged citizens and media outlets from being as involved as they could be. Given the two characters in this mayoral race, though -- and the stable of citizen activists and bloggers that London has rallied to his side over the years -- means this will be one of the county's more exciting races this year.