Wellington resident Bart Novack seeks to claim a seat on the Wellington Village Council. Novack, a frequent critic of Wellington government, is challenging Vice Mayor John McGovern for Seat 3 on Tuesday, March 13.
A first-time candidate, Novack said he is running out of concern for village residents.
“I don’t want the people to get short-changed. I want the politicians to do what they’re supposed to do, not to have double standards, not to give one individual courtesy over another,” Novack said. “I have a passion that the people deserve better representation than they’ve been getting.”
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Novack was an electrician by trade, following in his father’s footsteps. He worked for his father in the electrical contracting field.
“We did hospitals. We did apartment buildings. We did schools,” Novack said. “We did prisons. You build hotels. You go into renovations. We worked in all kinds of buildings.”
Part of the field of construction is learning how to communicate with different kinds of professionals and complete different jobs, Novack said.
“You’ve got to know how to make something work. If you get a conflict with trades, you’ve got to figure it out — how to do it; when to do it,” he said. “You learn to deal with a lot of people.”
Novack moved to Wellington with his wife and daughter in 2002. He is particularly fond of Wellington’s recreational amenities.
“We like the parks,” he said. “We like the fact that we can now go to the amphitheater. We like to go places that Wellington does give you for free. Taking a walk in the Everglades, it’s beautiful.”
With the opportunity to serve the village on the council, Novack would like to see changes to the way he sees parks and recreation being handled in the village, particularly with access for residents.
“If they want to run sports, I love the idea. I’m promoting it. But the people do need somewhere to be able to play for free; otherwise, they’re going to be out in the streets,” Novack said. “Not when you’re walking on the field, and you get tossed off. Our parks are publicly funded; it deserves to be for free.”
Novack believes there is also work to be done regarding access for individual sports.
“I would like to see more lacrosse fields, since in the last five years, it has exploded,” he said. “I’d like volleyball to be introduced. That’s another big sport. Otherwise they do a pretty good job, but it does go around money that they’re profiteering from this, where they’re kicking out the resident who wants to throw around the football on the field.”
An important undeveloped, village-owned property is the K-Park parcel at the corner of Stribling Way and State Road 7. Novack is concerned with the future of that property.
“We have the luxury of sitting on that piece of property,” he said. “We could flip it for a lot of money, and I think that money should go back into the park system.”
Novack cited the improvement of quality of life and prevention of overdevelopment in the village as his major goals. In particular, he would like to see changes to code enforcement in the village. This is an area where he has sparred with both the village and his local homeowners’ association.
“Either it’s going to be the same for everybody or nobody. You can’t build something and ask for forgiveness afterward. You need to file proper permits, and then build it,” Novack said.
Novack wants to see overall improvements to communication between the village, the council, village committees, residents and community groups, such as equestrians.
“Better standards, better agendas for the council and for the committees,” Novack said. “I want to see all the people get along whether it’s the horse community, whether it’s the residents. Whatever they do and they feel, everybody needs to come together and get on an equal field.”
Novack particularly wants there to be a greater ease of access to information and overall usage of the village web site.
“You’ve got to make that web site for [everyone], somebody could click on it, and they can go where they need, not to go through all of these motions on clicking and then you don’t find things,” Novack said. “That’s frustrating.”
Novack takes a conservative approach to village finances. He believes the village has been spending when it should be focused on saving and avoiding potential debt.
“Cut spending. If you don’t need it, don’t do it,” Novack said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. They’ve been spending money like wildfire. They know we only have a certain amount in reserves. We should be holding onto those reserves.”
Part of the village spending he wants to change is money that is used to promote private business in Wellington.
“We need to cut some of that out,” Novack said. “If you’re running a private business, and you’re making money, go promote yourselves. Don’t expect the village to promote you.”
Despite his concerns, Novack said he is confident in the abilities of Village Manager Paul Schofield to perform his role.
“He’s a master at what he does, no question about it,” Novack said. “Can everybody use fine-tuning? Sure. But he knows what do. He handles it well. And I think he does a good job.”
Novack said he values the equestrian community in Wellington but has concern for its continued expansions.
“I would like to see it expanded on the proper acreage,” Novack said. “You can’t put five pounds of something in a three-pound bag. If you’re going to grow that big, there should be different planning. Maybe you need to buy more property and expand it.”
Novack wants to see continued improvement to the relationship between the village and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, but it’s a good relationship,” Novack said. ““The sheriff is the sheriff, and they have a certain obligation and responsibility to the people. The village can suggest certain things. That doesn’t mean that’s what we’re going to be getting.”
Recently, Novack’s time has been split between his campaign and supporting his wife, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I know there have been a couple of candidate forums that I have not participated in,” Novack said. “My wife was just diagnosed with cancer, and I’d rather spend time with her than to answer or go against questions that other people already know.”
Novack is continuing with his low-key, low budget campaign for Seat 3, putting his faith in Wellington residents who want to see a change in how the village operates.
“I’m not a politician. I try to use logical sense. I’m taking money from nobody. Nobody owns me, and I like that fact,” Novack said. “I’m not running a big campaign. I don’t need the endorsements of the fire people, the sheriff’s people, the newspapers, the TV — the reason being that most of them don’t live here in Wellington. I want the residents to endorse me, not these big forums.”