In Profile: Jerry Fadgen Plantation City Counsel President

Plantation City Council President: Jerry Fadgen

Biographical information:

Birth Place: Pittsburgh, PA
Years in Florida: 31 years
House of worship: St. Gregory Catholic Church
Family: Married to Kathleen Ann since 1970, 40 years last May. Two grown sons, both Eagle Scouts, a C.P.A. and Software Engineer, respectively.
Prior Occupation: Certified Public Accountant
 

Family/human interest:  

Q: Where did you grow-up and what was it like?
I was the 5th of 6 children; Dad died when I was  5 & my mother died when I was 8. I lived in 3 orphanages & 4 foster homes over the next 10 years, until I was emancipated at 18. While that was unfortunate (the 6 of us losing our parents at such a young age – ages 6 to 13), I for one had the great fortune of having 5 sets of loving parents. My father was an accountant & my mother was a nurse. My foster parents were mill workers and steel workers.

Q: Growing up – do you have a favorite sport, or hobby?
I play tennis regularly, and my real advantage is my long reach in all directions. I play golf infrequently, and I have no advantage whatsoever. Each round of golf I get at least 2 high, long & straight strokes and at least 1 exceptional putt.

Q: Who has most shaped you as a leader – your mother or your father?
I have 10 to choose from. Frank Yarosh, my 3rd foster father, who I lived with for 3 years, and Ann Czekanski, my 4th foster mother, who I lived with for 5 years.

Q: In what way did they shape you?
Frank Yarosh, in addition to being a steel worker, was an entrepreneur providing valuable services to his neighbors that could not obtain them elsewhere – short term payday loans. I was removed from that foster home because the social worker thought it would be a bad influence on me.
Ann Czekanski was a tough, determined, consistent and organized housewife –  raising her own 3 daughters, the youngest of which was 1 week older than me. She kept 2 of my brothers for 3 years, and then took me in, and then another brother. A lot of those attributes drive me today.

Q: Where and how did you meet your spouse?
I met Kathy at the beginning of our senior year at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Q: Does your family have a Thanksgiving, or Christmas tradition, that you’d like to tell us about?

In recent years, rather than spending all day Thanksgiving Day preparing for the feast, we would purchase a fully prepared feast at Publix, and the four of use as a family would play a round of golf. Afterwards we would return to enjoy our feast. The evening before Thanksgiving we would attend the annual Thanksgiving prayer service conducted by the Plantation Association of Clergy.

Your…

First job? During 5th grade, I was a paperboy.
Favorite movie? I am not a cinema aficionado. However, there are a variety of movies that I particularly liked over the last couple of decades in order of preference:
1.) Shawshank Redemption (’94)
2.) Raiders of the Lost Ark (’81)
3.) Silence of the Lambs (’91)
4.) Forrest Gump (’94)
5.) Sleepless in Seattle (’93)
6.) Home Alone (’90)
Last book read? Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Musical preference? Classical & Country
Favorite team? My oldest son is our sports fanatic in the family. However, the Dolphins are most loved, but I have a fondness for the teams in cities in which we lived: The Steelers & Pirates; The Bills & Cowboys.
Salty or sweet? Kathy tries to keep me away from the salt. Once a week, I love to have a huge serving of ice cream.
Lakes or oceans; mountains or beaches? We love the deep blue sea & all of S. Florida
Army, navy, air force, marines or coast guard? God Bless each and every one of them. I am not a veteran.

Public leadership:
Q: What was your motivation to run for public office?
I wanted government to be effective, while being limited. Over my lifetime, I believe it has been neither. I believe I could be part of the solution, and am now committed to doing so.

Q: Can you name a key issue that you are currently working on as a City of Plantation Council member that you hope to complete?
While overall crime stats for the City of Plantation are down, “smash & grab” auto burglaries are up 7% and home burglaries are up 1.7% during the 6 months of 2010. I have demanded that the police re-activate the burglary squad to specifically address these 2 crime areas, improve community awareness that they are part of the solution & to use forfeiture funds to install cameras on City facilities & parking lots.

 

Q: To date is there one accomplishment in your public service that you’d like to tell us about?
There are several; some more significant than others.
1.) Before being elected to City Council, I promised to abolish the “Super” generous pension benefit granted to City elected officials after being elected to a second term. After 90 days that obnoxious plan was abolished – A promised kept.
2.) I generally believe that private industry can do things better than government agencies. Prior to my election, the County contracted an EMS service. Generally, response times for our City residents were horrible (averaging about 10 minutes). This resulted in many cases when a serious medical episode occurred (such as a heart attack) the resident might well be dead or seriously brain damaged by the time the contracted EMS personnel arrived at the patient’s side. I am proud to report, I was instrumental in getting the City to develop its own EMS service, which has been experiencing excellent response times, and regularly received high praise from the recipients of that service following the very traumatic incidents.

Q: Can you name a time where your faith was challenged as a public official, or in other leadership positions? Where you knew making a righteous decision might cost you some support?
Plantation is a diverse community, made up of many religious traditions and ethnic backgrounds. In the recent past, some residents wanted to erect a Nativity Scene on City property. The Mayor objected based upon legal concerns. After I and other members of the City Council insisted on having the matter discussed, and the legal concerns aired, the City Council directed the Mayor to erect the Nativity Scene on Liberty Tree Park, one block west of City Hall. Unfortunately, Baby Jesus was stolen from the scene the weekend after Christmas.

Q: Do you intend to continue running for or serving in public office? Or is this the final stop for you?
I have loved every moment of my 16 years as a member of the Plantation City Council, even during times of very controversial issues that were brought before us for consideration. For at least the last 10 years I have been preparing myself to be Mayor. When elected Mayor, I plan to work as hard as I can, to make our government less intrusive in our residents’ lives, and to insure the City’s activities are “limited” while providing essential services efficiently.
When I was younger, I ran for the U.S. House of Representatives (1982). That job takes a whole lot of different skills, than the ones that I have honed in on over the last 10 years. I believe I am best suited and prepared for the challenges and opportunities that will confront me as Plantation’s new Mayor.

Public perspective:
Q: Everyone develops an opinion about Presidential and Gubernatorial elections, but few people focus on local elections. What are your thoughts about this?
Your statement is true, but even on the national & statewide issues, the interest & focus of the citizens is not what it should be considering the magnitude & importance of most of the issues. And because of that basic fact of human nature, our forefathers, as a stroke of genius, built into our Constitution the concept of limited government with its separation of powers.
Voter turnout in local elections is chronically low. Those that do vote in City elections are generally more likely to vote in national elections, and generally better informed on national & local candidates and national & local issues. However, the risk of an unexpected outcome is much, much greater in such a situation; a very motivated opponent could activate a significant number of voters, from the large pool of non-voters for municipal elections.

Q: Is there a person in American history that you truly admire, or are fascinated by and why?
I might say, Abraham Lincoln … because I have a Lincolnesque look about me. I heard that Lincoln told this story in the White House to some guests about when he was thinking about running for public office for the 1st time:
Lincoln met with a few of his trusted friends and asked them what they thought of his plans. They asked him to step away for a few minutes so they could discuss the matter privately for a few minutes. After a short while they called him to give him their opinion. They said, “Abe you should not run for public office.” Lincoln was shocked by their conclusion, after all these were his close friends. In his shock Lincoln asked them why not. They replied, “Abe, you are too tall… you are too skinny… and you are too ugly!” I suppose those same reasons could apply to me.
But on a much more serious note, next to George Washington, Lincoln is probably the greatest U.S. President… He saved the Nation from tearing itself apart.
Lincoln’s thoughts and writings seemed to have been inspired from on High. But yet his ideology seemed to be tempered by the practical…how to make the Union (North & South) survive as one…he would emancipate all slaves or none at all, if that would restore the bonds of friendship between the States.

Q: As a certified public accountant, you’ve worked for several major corporations, and, began your career with the well known firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers. A few years ago our government and business community’s were put in turmoil because of scandals, and conflicts of interest in the accounting community. What insight can you give us on these issues?
[The US Supreme Court ultimately overturned the conviction of Arthur Anderson, the highly esteemed public accounting firm in the Enron matter, but well after the firm was dismembered & dissolved.]
The SEC had not kept pace with regulating (or even publicizing) the risks associated with globalization and securities (derivatives) used as a hedge of the risk of other securities. At some point, rational skepticism was disengaged, and a house of cards remained… and then collapsed.
Greed and denial are usually both in play in these cases.
A firm grounding in what is right and what is wrong is essential for all owners, all managers, all elected or appointed officials, in all organizations (big businesses & small businesses, national, state county and city governments).

Please complete the following sentences:
The one thing that I would change about Plantation….
Just because an item is in the budget, does not mean we have to spend it!

The one thing that I would change about Florida…
When the Nation was founded, there was a sense of rugged individualism. There were no government handouts or entitlements. The churches, through the charity of its members, would take care of the orphaned, the sick, and the needy. The Nation and Florida need to return to that culture of a faith based community helping each other.

For more information visit www.Fadgen4Mayor.com.
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