Lascola Puts Focus On Senior Issues, ‘Civility’ On Council

Sharon Lascola hopes Wellington residents recognize her passion and drive to help others, and choose her Tuesday, March 11 for a four-year term in Seat 2 on the Wellington Village Council.

Lascola is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Anne Gerwig in her bid for the seat. Seat 3, currently held by incumbent Vice Mayor Howard Coates, is being sought by Matt Kurit.

A New York native, Lascola bought a home in Wellington in 1980 with her late husband, August. She ran a hair salon for 13 years in Amherst, N.Y., and also worked in marketing. When her husband was diagnosed with cancer, Lascola sold the business so they could move to Florida full-time.

“We loved the peaceful, small-town atmosphere,” she said. “We were snowflakes at first, before we decided to move permanently. We joined Wellington Club East in 1991 and the old Wellington Golf Club when it first became a golf course.”

Lascola was active in the golf community and would rate golf courses with other local residents.

Lascola’s husband died in 1993, and in 2005, she moved to Central Florida, where she did promotional work. However, she missed Wellington during her time away. “I knew I had made a mistake leaving Wellington,” she said.

In 2012, Lascola retired and returned to Wellington to care for her elderly mother. Lascola now lives in the Mayfair community. She is involved with the Wellington Seniors Club and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

Among her top accomplishments, Lascola lists managing her own business for 13 years. “I kept the same people working for me,” she said.

Although she has not been in politics before, Lascola said she was spurred to run after seeking an adult daycare setting for her mother.

“There wasn’t anything in Wellington,” she said. “That’s how this started. When I was asked to run, I started looking at my opponent’s record. I feel we have different visions for Wellington.”

If elected, Lascola said she would put a focus on seniors, vote against large commercial development and push for civility on the dais.

“My main objective would be to stop large commercial development,” she said. “I’m an independent thinker. I don’t have any developers telling me what to do. I’m not going to be bought by anybody.”

The tension on the current council was a large reason Lascola decided to run, she said.

“It goes back to the bickering,” she said. “They spent money to have a counselor come in, and it’s still not resolved.”

Regarding senior issues, Lascola said the village needs to put more emphasis on its aging population.

“We have parks for kids, recreational fields, which is wonderful, but what do we have for seniors?” she asked. “We have nothing but a meeting once a month. We have no place for seniors to gather. We’re a community. As we get older, we need something for ourselves. Wellington should be a total community.”

Lascola also wants more transparency in Wellington’s government. “I was trying to see how much we paid for [the Wellington Municipal Complex],” she said. “I couldn’t find it.”

Speaking of the municipal complex, she opposed that project. “I don’t like it,” she said. “It’s too big. I think it’s a waste of space inside. I think we could have done more with that money.”

Nevertheless, Lascola believes that Village Manager Paul Schofield is doing a good job as manager. “It’s hard to be a manager,” she said. “I think he’s done a decent job. I don’t have a problem with him.”

Lascola said Wellington still has work to do to clean up some of its transitional neighborhoods.

“There is still a lot of blight in some of our neighborhoods,” she said. “I think we have a ways to go to clean it up. We’d have to look at the cost and what we can do about it.”

Although she would support a medical school, Lascola said she believes the proposed medical arts district project is too big.

“When I first heard about the project, I heard they were going to put a vet school or medical school along with hotels and other things,” she said. “I thought, ‘They have to be out of their minds.’ State Road 7 can hardly take what it’s at.”

A veterinary school in the area would be a good idea, Lascola said. “I think it’s a decent idea,” she said. “But I can’t see putting hotels and stuff back there.”

In recent years, the work of the council has been dominated by its often stormy relationship with horse show promoter Mark Bellissimo. Lascola said she did not know what Wellington’s future relationship with Bellissimo will look like.

“When I moved here, I knew nothing about what was going on,” she said. “I think someone is going to have to be a grown-up and give on certain issues. I don’t know how I would resolve things.”

Lascola said the K-Park property on State Road 7 is one of Wellington’s last opportunities for economic development.

“I think we need something that coincides with Wellington’s small-town atmosphere,” she said. “I would not like to see a park there. I’d like to see something for the local economy that would create some jobs.”

Lascola is fully in support for rebuilding the Wellington Community Center as soon as possible.

“I think the current building has seen its days,” she said. “It’s a convoluted issue. I’d like to see 12 [tennis] courts stay. We could run those courts as pay-to-play and fund the community center.”

But it’s imperative that seniors have a place to gather, she said.

“I believe in helping the seniors have a place,” Lascola said. “Right now, the Wellington Seniors Club has to go in, eat and leave. My vision would be a place where seniors can congregate and enjoy coffee or refreshments, talk and have a place to call their own.”

She said that even if the tennis center is moved, some of the courts should remain. On a related topic, Lascola said she was against the purchase of the Lake Wellington Professional Centre.

With Wellington Presbyterian Church’s recent decision to close its school and sell its land, Lascola said there might be some opportunities for senior housing on the site.

“It might be a nice site for senior housing,” she said. “Not Century Village senior housing, but $120,000 to $150,000 affordable housing. If you sell your home in Wellington because it’s too big and you want to downsize, you have to move away to find affordable housing.”

Wellington recently decided to stop fluoridating its water, a decision Lascola said she does not agree with. “I think we should keep it in the water,” she said. “I grew up with fluoride in the water. I don’t think it hurts.”

Though some have alleged Lascola is aligned on a slate with Kurit, she said that is not the case. “He’s more about the young, and I’m more about the old,” she said. “We both are the same in that we don’t want large commercial development.”

Lascola has been strongly backed by the Democratic Party, and she pointed out that Republican Party is backing her opponent.

“I don’t like outside money in anything,” she said. “But I haven’t been on the council for four years. I don’t have a record to run on. I’d rather have a grassroots campaign.”

Though some have criticized Lascola’s lack of involvement in government, she said her life experience will be valuable on the council.

“I have a lot of common sense,” she said. “You don’t have to be involved in every organization. I have years of experience, and I think I can do a good job.”

Lascola said voters should choose her because she has a strength of character that will make her an honest, outspoken advocate for residents.

“I don’t back down to anyone,” she said. “I’m just that type of person. I’m nice, honest and I’ll be straightforward with you. What more can you want?”