The message that the average voting resident of the Town of Loxahatchee Groves is not happy with Jim Rockett’s performance as a council member was made glaringly clear by the election results. The very efficient political machine that has placed its force behind the election of every elected councilman since the original council worked tirelessly to ensure that Rockett kept his seat. Despite this, Rockett kept his position by a mere 30 votes.
A poll was taken from residents both before and after they voted, and at least 50 stated emphatically that if it was not for the college issue, they would not have voted for Rockett. Between the misinformation circulated by Rockett’s powerful election team and the reinforcement of that misinformation by the local newspapers, the election issue was changed. The focus was changed from whose platform would better serve the community to one of “a vote for Rockett was a vote to not have a $5,000 assessment added on your taxes and to vote against him was a vote to be forced to pay the college $7 million.”
The erroneous threats that “if McLendon is elected, each property owner would have to pay an extra $5,000 in property taxes” (reiterated by the local press as if it had factual basis) took a major toll in the minds of those who would have liked to have seen Rockett defeated. Even Mayor Dave Browning, who has customarily remained neutral in all past elections, broke tradition and called all of his supporters to ensure they voted for Rockett due to, in his words, “the college issue.”
It was a cleverly thought-out and enacted strategy that caused sufficient worry to sway the election. The fact that one council member does not have the power to make a decision concerning the college and that four votes would be required for such decisions was overlooked by a large percentage of voters. The irony was that this scare tactic helped Rockett, who pushed for the college, gain the vote of many who are against it and are also against his views on other issues. A large percentage of people who do not want the college have lost sight of the fact of who got us into this position from the beginning.
I would like to thank the people who overlooked the misinformation, evaluated me as the candidate they thought would work in the best interest of Loxahatchee Groves and voted. I appreciate your support.
Todd McLendon, Loxahatchee Groves
Editor’s note: Mr. McLendon ran unsuccessfully against Councilman Jim Rockett in the race for Seat 2 on the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council.