Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel is running for his fourth term on the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council. He faces two challengers, Phillis Maniglia and Neil O’Neal III, in his bid to retain Seat 1. The election will be on Tuesday, March 13.
Jarriel is a 57-year resident of Loxahatchee Groves. He has been married to his wife, Sharon, for 45 years. They chose to stay in Loxahatchee Groves and raise their family in the community. They have one son, who is the fourth generation of Jarriels to live in the Loxahatchee Groves area.
Jarriel spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a Vietnam War veteran. He retired from Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue after 31 years of service, and spent nine years on the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council in 2009. He has been re-elected twice since then.
Jarriel believes that he is the most qualified candidate to sit on the council due to his experience.
“I have put a lot into both the town council and the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District,” he said. “I have helped make many decisions for both boards. I feel that because of this experience, I am the most qualified to once again sit on this council.”
He highlights his top accomplishment as working hard to bring Palm Beach State College to the Groves.
“Getting PBSC was a great accomplishment for the residents of the western communities,” Jarriel said. “I fought hard to help make that happen. Along with the college, we got our own shopping center, Loxahatchee Groves Commons. It’s a great convenience for our residents, as well as neighboring communities.”
Another accomplishment he is proud to have been a part of is the purchasing of the Loxahatchee Groves Town Hall building at 155 F Road from the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce at approximately half of what building a new building would have cost.
He also thinks the paving of South B Road, which was paid for by the developers of Loxahatchee Groves Commons at no cost to the residents, is another great accomplishment.
Jarriel lists the top three issues in this campaign as providing safer and improved roads, improving drainage throughout the community, and building multi-purpose trails throughout the town that connect with neighboring communities.
He feels there are services not currently provided by the town that should be, including an RV park that would allow equestrians to board and enjoy riding trails, and getting the long-delayed multi-purpose trails going.
Roads are a perennial issue in Loxahatchee Groves, and Jarriel advocates for road improvements using South B Road as a model.
He favors using money to build the roads in a 55/45 state match from grants, gas tax funds, revenue from commercial development on State Road 80, and developers that want to build and do business in the Groves, and assessments, if needed.
Jarriel supports the current effort to make the LGWCD a dependent district to the Town of Loxahatchee Groves with the condition that the LGWCD becomes the town’s public utilities department.
“We can have our own graders and employees to grade our roads whenever needed and cut costs to our residents,” Jarriel said. “At this time, we are spending too much money on private contractors when we should have an interlocal agreement with the water control district to grade our roads, cutting costs to the residents and improving the condition of the roads.”
He envisions Okeechobee Blvd. to stay as two lanes with proper turning lanes that allow traffic to flow smoothly, with beautiful landscaping in the median.
Jarriel thinks that the town needs more commercial development in order to bring in more revenue to pay for better roads, drainage, parks and the multi-purpose trails.
“The commercial should remain on Southern Blvd. so that access can be made off a major thoroughfare and not infringe on the quality of life of our residents,” he said.
In his opinion, Town Manager Bill Underwood is doing a good job, but Jarriel would like better response to road repair needs.
“The town manager is highly qualified and highly respected by the League of Cities,” he said. “He is getting the job done. I would like to see a quicker response to some of the emergency road problems in the town and more concern about the condition of our roads.”
He said that the town’s budget took some hard hits over the past year but should recover without taking drastic measures.
“I believe that we have enough money in the budget to do a better job on improving our roads,” Jarriel said. “If we had not had a hurricane this year, our budget would be looking a lot better. If the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office cost had not doubled, that would have been great. I would like to put more funds into multi-purpose trails. Due to extenuating circumstances this past year, our budget is very tight. I believe by the end of the year, through more revenue coming in, our funds will be looking good again.”
His vision for the future of Loxahatchee Groves includes better roads, better drainage and a better quality of life for everyone, with property values continuing to go up, and a town that has become united working together for the betterment of all.
He thinks voters should vote for him due to his decades of experience with both the Town of Loxahatchee Groves and the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District.
“I am the best qualified for this job,” Jarriel said. “I was on the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District board for nine years, learning how to improve both drainage and roads. I gave that up to sit on the town council, which I am very proud to be able to have served on. After 18 years of serving on both boards, I feel that I have a lot of knowledge and experience to do the best job I can for our residents. As a 57-year resident, my heart is in our town. I will continue to listen and strive to do what is best for all of us.”