The race for two seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors will continue until November after none of the candidates garnered 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday.
For Seat 2, it appears that incumbent Supervisor Gary Dunkley and challenger Steve Roberts will face off in November after Dunkley garnered 38.87 percent (1,808 votes) and Roberts took 24.04 percent (1,118 votes), edging challenger Ryan Bernal, who got 23.54 percent (1,095 votes). Tim Sayre finished in fourth place with 13.55 percent (630 votes). A recount in that race is likely, which could put Bernal in the runoff instead.
For Seat 4, challenger Betty Argue tallied 41.90 percent (2,004 votes) to incumbent Supervisor Michelle Damone’s 38.26 percent (1,830 votes). Keith Jordano received 19.84 percent (949 votes) and was eliminated. Argue and Damone will go head-to-head in November.
Dunkley, wrapping up his first four-year term, thanked the people of The Acreage for their vote of confidence. “I will continue looking out for our community’s welfare, safety and happiness with all my efforts,” he said.
Although he has to continue the campaign through November, he said he is ready for the challenge.
“What I got is what I got,” he said. “I’m very happy. I have no regrets. My focus is trying to save money, keep our focus on ITID as a drainage district; infrastructure, roads and drainage are our core functions. As for parks, I would like to complete the [Acreage Community Park] expansion. We started it so many years ago, and I would like to complete it without any more hesitation. We voted on it, we passed it and let’s complete it. I don’t like leaving things incomplete.”
Roberts said he did not want to comment on the outcome until the results are finalized.
Argue is pleased with the results in the Seat 4 race. “From what I’m hearing out talking to people, they are ready for change,” she said. “They don’t want career politicians in there anymore, and they want somebody who’s going to be their voice and represent their interests. I think the fact that I got 42 percent of the vote speaks volumes. The incumbent got 38 percent. I think that’s a rather surprising number considering she’s the incumbent and she has 15 years’ experience.”
Argue said she worked hard on her campaign, but not as hard as when she ran unsuccessfully against ITID President Carol Jacobs two years ago. She has worked on several anti-development campaigns, as well as being active with the Acreage Landowners’ Association, her children’s parent-teacher organization and in scouting.
“At that time I had been involved with the ‘Say No to Minto’ campaign for about a year,” she said. “Even though I had been involved in the ALA and involved in a couple of community events, I was still somewhat unfamiliar to people in the community. In the past few years, I have been very active in terms of the ‘Say No to Minto,’ in terms of ALERTS [Acreage Loxahatchee Engaged Residents Taking a Stand] and talking to residents. I am the president of the PTO for Loxahatchee Groves [Elementary School], and I am committee chair for my two youngest boys’ Cub Scout pack.”
Damone said her opponent’s campaign has been deeply financed by political action committees and organized by a professional consulting firm.
“In the primary, her campaign was negative,” she said. “She mailed out two negative ads against me, and I remained positive, and now, going into the general election, the gloves are off, and I look forward to taking her on head-to-head.”
Damone said she has a different approach from her opponent about the three large developments that are coming to areas near The Acreage.
“I’m a firm believer that if you say ‘no’ and turn your back that you will end up with what you fear because you will back these developers into a corner where they will turn to their rights,” she said. “Unless somebody has multimillion dollars to purchase the land and put in a conservatory and then have the funding to maintain it, building is coming. I’d rather be a voice of reason when I’m having conversations with these developers so I can buffer these negative impacts to our community and receive benefits that will improve the quality of life in the area. You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu.”
Damone said she would rather be engaging in conversations with developers than filing lawsuits, and negotiating rather than driving developers like Minto/Westlake to incorporate so they can control their own planning and development.
“They negotiated with the county, they got their development orders, then the next thing you know they were taken to court and they’re still in court,” she said. “When they purchased the property, they had the ability to incorporate, and they got frustrated. They made a business decision and decided to use that tool.”