Former Councilman Al Paglia hopes voters share his vision for Wellington and vote Tuesday, March 13 to return him to the Wellington Village Council.
“Living in Wellington reaffirmed in my mind why I wanted to move here,” he said. “It’s a place where families can nurture and come together. I knew we had an ideal community in our midst.”
Paglia is a longtime Wellington resident who served on the council from 1998 until 2002. After one term, he narrowly lost his re-election bid to Lizbeth Benacquisto, now a state senator.
Paglia grew up in Connecticut and attended the University of New Haven, where he received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He spent 24 years in the U.S. Army Reserves. Paglia and his wife, Rosemary, moved to Wellington in 1978 and raised three children in the community.
For more than 30 years, he worked as a purchasing professional for entities such as the Palm Beach County School District, Broward County and the City of Boca Raton. He later opened Palm Beach Contract Furniture, which he sold in 2010.
Active in the community, Paglia has served as a member of the St. Rita Catholic Church Knights of Columbus, as a board member of the Wellington Boys & Girls Club, as co-chair for the Western Communities Relay for Life and on the annual “Tootsie Roll” drive for mentally challenged children.
Paglia said he decided to run for Seat 4 after seeing that Vice Mayor Matt Willhite would be unopposed.
“This is a democracy,” he said. “If you have the opportunity to serve your community, step up to the plate. Take a risk. People are so apathetic today. People should rise to the occasion and show interest in their government. I offer a distinct difference on a comparison line.”
If elected, Paglia said he would vote for sustainability and family-oriented policies in the village. He said he would advocate for small businesses, work to bring in sign codes that allow for better visibility and look for grant opportunities.
“Having been a small businessman, I can talk from experience,” he said. “I know how hard it was for people to seek me out because they couldn’t find me. There was no proper signage.”
Paglia said he would look to Florida Department of Transportation and Palm Beach County grants to pay for improved signage.
He said that there are many grants that will help small businesses save, and that Wellington should be pro-active in educating about them.
“The village has to be proactive in bringing ‘go green’ energy saving grants to the businesses in our community,” Paglia said. “If we can do that, some of them could see increased savings from using [green measures].”
With increased budget shortfalls, Paglia said he would strive to hold a tight budget. He said he supports several of the measures already in place to cut costs, such as the four-day workweek.
“We have done really well,” he said. “I don’t see a whole lot of things that I would say have to be done. I would hold that 2.5 [mill tax] rate.”
Though Paglia said he supports all Wellington has done to stem the foreclosure crisis, he felt that more could be done to educate and advise residents.
“You could take it further,” he said. “We have a lot of staff who go out into the neighborhoods. There’s no reason they can’t put out information packets and leave them on the doorknob.”
He also said he’d like to see a real-estate advisory board created within his first year in office, bringing together top Realtors, real-estate experts and others who can help educate council members and residents about how to keep people in their homes.
“I could see right now all the brains and experts in our village coming together,” he said. “I’m sure if you put the call out… people who are experts in this industry would come together to brainstorm how we can help our own.”
Paglia applauded Wellington’s Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. He pointed out that the planned Boys & Girls Club facility to be built on Wellington Trace would help make a difference for neighborhood children.
“We have latchkey kids over there who are alone every day after school,” he said. “We’re doing what we can.”
Another project Paglia said he would support if elected is the planned medical arts district. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It was 204 acres in a swath of land that was just sitting there as a swamp. We’re going to expand on what started with all those little medical offices.”
Though Paglia said he supports the new Palm Beach County Office of the Inspector General, he said he agrees with the lawsuit brought by 15 municipalities — including Wellington — challenging its financing scheme.
“The lawsuit was the right thing for our community to do,” he said. “The concept of the inspector general… was the right thing to do also. What happened was the way it was set up, it wasn’t a proper prorated sharing ratio. We were paying like three times more than Riviera Beach. If all 38 towns, regardless of their size, had their fair share, I think it would be the best way to do that. Whatever that formula is, it should be the same for all towns.”
Paglia also said he would have supported the proposed Equestrian Village project that went before the council last month.
“I would have voted with the majority,” he said. “When you get into the details of the plan, the dressage part was perfect. The height of the hotel, whether 58 feet or 62 feet, that’s not a problem for me.”
He did say, however, that he was concerned about traffic and thought Pierson Road might need to be expanded to mitigate the problem. “I’m concerned there might be traffic issues coming out at peak times on Pierson,” he said.
Paglia said that he is very much the same candidate he was in his last election, though a bit more mature. “I’m a grandfather now,” he said. “But not much has changed. I’m still the same guy in 2012 that I was in 2002.”
He said that he wants residents to be able to move to Wellington and raise a family, much like he did many years ago.
“I stand for well-planned, manageable, sustainable growth,” he said. “I want you to be able to move here with your young family. Live, educate your children, recreate them here, send them to college and then, hopefully, have employment centers so if they want to move back and work here, they can do that. Simultaneously, I want people to be able to age gracefully, stay in their homes or go to a treatment center nearby.”
Rebuking claims that he is still focused on issues of yesterday, Paglia said he has been keeping an eye on village issues even when he was not in office. “That doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever,” he said. “Age is just a number.”
He also said that claims that he is aligned on a slate with candidates Darell Bowen and Shauna Hostetler are untrue.
“I only met Shauna about six weeks ago,” he said. “My line of thinking is more in line with Darell than it is with Bob [Margolis, Bowen’s opponent], though I like Bob. I’m more in line with Shauna than with [candidate] John Greene. But we didn’t go in a dark room and plan this.”
Paglia said he is a candidate who has deep connections to the community and will help it remain family-friendly.
“I know the community,” he said. “I have roots here. I’ve raised three children, and I’ve seen what families went through then and what they’re going through now.”
Paglia said he hopes voters will see his contributions to the community and choose him on March 13. “I’m the best guy for the job,” he said. “I hope they give me their support.”