For Tuesday’s election: The candidates. The ballot questions. A summary of our insights. | Editorial

Tuesday is Election Day in South Florida. Nearly three dozen people in 11 municipalities — from Boynton Beach to Miramar — are kissing babies, knocking on doors and planting yard signs, all hoping for the chance to serve.

Two cities — Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood — are holding special elections, not to elect a mayor or city commissioners, but to pass bond referendums. They want permission to borrow a lot of money — $300 million in Fort Lauderdale and $165 million in Hollywood — to build new police headquarters and other things. The debt would be paid via higher property taxes.

Sadly, the turnout for March municipal elections is always far lower than November elections for president or governor. That’s unfortunate because the decisions made at city halls have a more direct impact on our lives than, say, how much Congress decides to spend on NASA or how many miles of wall will be built on the southern border.

City commissions decide what gets built in your neighborhood, how much you’ll pay for water and sewer services, how often your garbage and recycling will be picked up, what amenities will be offered at your neighborhood park and, most importantly, how police and firefighting services will be staffed to respond to emergencies and keep us safe.

Fitzpatrick warns voters that Romelus wants to bring high-density development to the city, an allegation she denies. Romelus has served the city well the past three years and deserves re-election.

Boynton Beach Commission District 4: Ty Penserga

The three candidates competing are Rick Maharajh, 46, president and CEO of his own tech company; Muriel Waldman, 85, a retired Broward Sheriff’s Office detective and Boynton Police Department crime victim advocate; and Ty Penserga, 30, a former teacher who is now a neuroscience research assistant at Florida Atlantic University.

We like the fact that Penserga grew up in the city and knows its strengths and its shortcomings, and that he wants to make it a better place for everyone. He’s on the same track as Mayor Grant and commissioners Katz and Romelus. We believe he would make an excellent addition to an already strong commission.

Deerfield Beach Commission: District 1 (Michael Hudak) and District 2 (Gloria Battle)

Known for its volatile and scandalous politics, Deerfield Beach has had a brief stretch of political cooperation and management stability. To keep it that way, voters should select incumbent Commissioner Gloria Battle and newcomer Michael Hudak, 53.

Both Battle and Hudak told us they think the commission is working well and they generally support City Manager Burgess Hanson and his staff. We agree. Ben Preston, 67, who is challenging Battle, and Dan Herz, 57, who is running against Hudak, said the city needs to make significant changes. The city needs commissioners willing to work together to address the many complex challenges still facing this evolving blue-collar town. Battle and Hudak have the cooperative temperament the city needs.

Coconut Creek Commission District A: Becky Tooley

This contest will come down to whether voters in this bedroom community want a new face on the dais or a familiar one with years of experience.

The experienced candidate is Rebecca “Becky” Tooley. Her opponent is Ryan Ross, who tells us he has no serious qualms with Tooley. Given her wealth of experience and understanding, Tooley is the better choice.

Pembroke Park Commission District 4: Francine Sutherland

This working-class town — where almost one in four live at or below the poverty line — needs a straight-talking commissioner who can bring order to the dysfunction.

Two candidates are running for the one open seat, District 4: Reynold Rey Dieuveille and Francine Sutherland. Both are newcomers, but Sutherland brings more than 25 years of experience as a rental apartment manager. Her priorities: fix the town’s finances, explore new police and fire rescue contracts with other cities, and go after state and federal grants to make needed improvements to sewers and roads. Sutherland has a business background and is above petty politics. She deserves your vote.

Miramar Mayor: Wayne Messam

There’s no doubt that Wayne Messam should be re-elected as mayor. He has only token opposition from a bizarre and mysterious candidate, Josue LaRosa. Here’s all you need to know about LaRosa. He was mocked on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report in 2012 for forming hundreds of political action committees and running for three public offices at the same time.

Messam, 44, won a national championship with Florida State University as a football player in 1993, and then went on to open a successful construction business before entering Miramar politics. What we like about Messam is his laser focus on making Miramar a destination city for people to live and work, and his understanding of the needs and demands of those on both the city’s east and west ends.

Miramar Commission Seat 4: Darline Riggs

Four candidates — incumbent Darline Riggs, Alexandra Davis, Leo Gilling and Barbara Delores Ingram — are running for this seat. This race really comes down to a choice between two strong candidates – Riggs, 39, and Davis, 56 – who engaged in a testy exchange during their endorsement interview with us. Riggs first ran and won in 2015 because she was worried about how the $60 million bond was being spent.

Davis, a longtime activist and a veteran of Miramar politics, is outspoken and stirs the pot. While likely a good activist, she is quick to become combative. Given that, we question her ability to influence others and find reasonable compromise. The more composed and fiscally responsible Riggs is better suited to help lead the city over the next four years.

Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara, Sergio Bustos and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson.