From now until the Aug. 30 primary election, the Town-Crier will ask questions each issue to the seven people running for two seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors. This week’s questions: What makes you the most qualified candidate to sit on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors? What changes would you like to see at ITID over the short term and the long term?
ITID SEAT 2
Ryan Bernal — My education includes two master’s degrees in public administration and accounting. I will be obtaining a Florida Certified Public Accountant license in the next couple of months, along with a Certified Government Finance Officers certificate from the Florida Government Finance Officers Association. For experience, I have worked within the heavy construction crew of the Village of Wellington’s Utilities Department installing water and sewer lines, as well as 48-inch cement and metal culverts. The field work has given me invaluable perspective of the importance of adequate water drainage and the difficult work its maintenance entails. Over the last four-plus years, I have worked for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in the procurement, budget and financial reporting/internal controls divisions. I have worked as buyer, contract analyst and financial analyst garnering experience no other candidate has in conducting the fiscal operations and seeing to the creation and maintenance of the organization’s financial statements. The changes I would like to see at ITID over the short term are to the implementation of traffic-calming plans, establishment of a plan of action to address the impending impacts on drainage and roads for the future surrounding communities and develop a capital replacement schedule. Long term, I would like to see more transparency from the district, safer roads, better project management, improved and maintained drainage, and incorporation.
Gary Dunkley — I am qualified because I continue to bring different views and encourage discussion on many topics on policy and procedure that have come before the Indian Trail Improvement District board. My original run as a board member was based on flaws I perceived in the drainage and maintenance of the district. ITID is a vast area (110 square miles to be exact), which needs constant and continuous oversight. To balance recharging our water needs (our wells) versus making sure we never have another recurrence of Isaac, which flooded our residents’ land and roads for days and was inexcusable, in my humble opinion. Some of the short-term changes I would like to see is a board that puts the residents first. Installing the inverted siphon, which is so badly needed for drainage and which sadly my fellow board members decided could be put aside for three years, is very disheartening. Just repairing and retrofitting our system of roads and canals is a 20-year plan at $1 million-plus per year. Finding better ways to control dust on our dirt roads and balancing maintenance on our paved roads while reining in the costs for our residents will be quite a feat. The threatening over-development of the Westlake and G.L. Homes lands will impact our roads, and our landowners who have paid for them. Hopefully my continued presence on the ITID board will serve to make the issues we are facing come to a conclusion, which will protect and benefit all residents of ITID. We have serious issues, and we need a serious board to defend our quality of life. I believe I am the board member you need.
Steve Roberts — In response to the first question, I would have to say that being the most qualified doesn’t mean that you are the one with the most past educational credentials. I believe what makes you more qualified over others has more to do with the ability to work with the other board members, local and state level representatives, and the community directly in achieving a single goal. I also believe that you should have the ability to learn and be prepared for upcoming agendas that are within our district boundaries, while understanding the consequences of each issue that is presented. To the second part of the question, regarding the short-term and the long-term goals, I feel that they are one and the same… to work together as a whole in achieving the best possible outcome without any biases or outside interferences. We are at a turning point in our community and need to all be single-minded in direction. The issues will always change, but the methodology of resolution should not. We have all different types of residents here in the ITID area, and we all care about our roads, parks and water management, along with a manageable budget. Together, this can be accomplished with the right people working together.
Timothy Sayre — What makes me the most qualified candidate? Having a good grasp of math and the ability to look at both sides of an issue while being subjective; weighing the choices and making the best choice while preserving all that is unique about The Acreage. I am able to ask questions that best probe the matter at hand and help determine what course of action should be taken, whether it be a vote, a call for further study (more information) or to see how it will impact other previous or pending decisions or courses of action. As for changes, there needs to be more opportunity for community input and involvement on matters that affect not only the board, but also those living in The Acreage. This input should not be limited to three minutes once a month, but should possibly be in an open forum (not Facebook, a real forum board hosted on the ITID site) where items of interest or upcoming agenda items are posted so all sides of the issue can be discussed in a civilized open forum board. This would allow anyone, including those who cannot make it to meetings, to have input into the items that are coming before the board. With technology that is available today, there is no reason that a community board forum cannot be available for input and discussion.
ITID SEAT 4
Betty Argue — Seat 4 needs a fresh, creative, open-minded perspective from someone with knowledge of The Acreage and the surrounding communities, ITID’s charter, the county’s comprehensive plan and state statutes. I am that person. I have experience and education in real estate, law and business. I am firmly committed to The Acreage and the surrounding communities through my service as the PTO president of Loxahatchee Groves Elementary School, committee chair of my sons’ cub scout troop, and as a founding member and president of Alerts of PBC. My unwavering commitment to community has been demonstrated in the various community meetings that I have consistently attended or viewed over the past several years, seeking discussions from residents with varying opinions, continued research and a quest for innovative solutions for issues facing the community. I will represent and respect all residents of The Acreage, even when we may disagree. ITID needs someone who is not firmly entrenched in an agenda to urbanize The Acreage or to jump in bed with the first option presented. Prioritization of ITID’s responsibilities are crucial to the health and well-being of all residents, with roads and drainage infrastructure clearly the most important priorities, while balancing improvement of parks and development of horse trails bolstering our rural equestrian lifestyles. I think it is important to return to fiscal and contractual responsibility, accountability, oversight and transparency, including the objective involvement of the inspector general. In the capacity of ITID supervisor, I would serve all residents of the district with honesty and integrity.
Michelle Damone — I feel that I am the most qualified for Seat 4 because I began in this community as a volunteer with the PTA, then coached for the Acreage Athletic League. I participated on the Recreation Advisory Committee and served on the Acreage Landowners’ Association board when it was actively involved in government affairs before I served my first term as an Indian Trail Improvement District supervisor. I entered the race as a park advocate and served my first term among six of the most astute leaders, who taught me well. I listened, asked good questions, prepared for meetings and learned the art of being both a leader, as well as visionary on behalf of our community. What I’d like to see change at ITID is for other board members to be prepared when making decisions on behalf of the community and trusting the professionals that have earned their certification in their craft to advise the board. Ultimately, the board makes the final decision, but trusting a solid administrator and the district’s professional staff will reduce professional fees, increase the decision-making process so we can act swiftly and accomplish the goals set by the board. Through efficiency, we can achieve more and give the taxpayers what they have earned and deserve throughout the district. With large tracts of land submitting plans to the county to develop, it is most important to allow for experience to guide us through these times. Just to say “no” is irresponsible. I want to be a part of the team that leads us into a brighter future.
Keith Jordano — I have over 40 years’ experience in the business world; 25 years as a business owner in insurance and finance, 10 years as a government consultant and 10 years in supply with the U.S. Navy Reserve, as well as construction experience working for my family construction company. I also have a degree in business management from Loyola University. I understand what The Acreage needs as a 17-year resident. I have also been involved in leadership positions serving as president or on the executive boards of the Acreage Landowners’ Association, the local chamber of commerce, the Rotary Club, the Unity for Kids special needs school, and professional and civic organizations. I want ITID to get back to basics; drainage, roads and parks. We are still at risk for flooding, our roads need maintenance and upgrades, and our community park is not completed after many years of planning. We need term limits to get fresh ideas and leadership and not turning the position on the board into a career. We also need to bring aboard the county’s inspector general to prevent fraud, waste and abuse of our tax dollars and power. Long term, we need to work together with all those concerned to make sure that all of the planned developments do not destroy our quality of life, cause more drainage issues, clog and destroy our roads, and create safety problems.