The Acreage Landowners’ Association held a forum Thursday, Oct. 25 for the six candidates seeking three seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors during next week’s election, but only three of the six candidates attended.
Seat 1 incumbent Supervisor Jennifer Hager attended the forum, as did Seat 3 candidates Keith Jordano and Joni Martin. Hager’s challenger, Robert Carter Jr., did not attend the forum. Neither did the two candidates for Seat 5, Michael Johnson and John Rivera.
ALA Board Member Howie Zusel moderated the forum, asking questions submitted by Acreage residents.
Asked about the role of ITID supervisors, Hager said it is to vote on matters before the board, often brought by residents. “We are one of five, and we direct staff,” she said. “We are not to individually run things, and we leave the day-to-day things to our administrator and our other key staff.”
Jordano said supervisors are elected to supervise the staff, listen to residents, pass information on to the staff and let the staff do its job.
Martin said the role of the supervisors is to manage the district’s roads, culverts, drainage and parks. “That is the main focus of ITID, and as a supervisor, we need to make the best decisions for the community,” she said. “We are here representing the citizens of ITID.”
Asked why they want to be on the ITID board, Martin said that she started attending ITID and ALA meetings regularly in January and learned that many residents did not know where to get help with local issues.
“I started to get interested in the district and actually thought it would be very interesting, since the community is going through a lot of growth and changes,” Martin said. “There are a lot of old-time residents here who have a great stake in seeing the community stay true to its roots.”
Jordano said that as a 20-year resident, he has been involved not only with The Acreage as a past ALA president, but with other western communities’ organizations.
“I felt it was a natural progression,” he said. “I have tried before to be on the board, and that’s because I am passionate about our community and keeping it a great place to live and work.”
Hager noted that she has lived in The Acreage since 2006 and has sat on the board since 2010.
“We are finally making the progress that we should have seen two terms ago, so I want to continue that,” she said. “I feel that people want me to stay on the board, and that’s why I decided to run again… We need to have a cohesive board — people who are willing to work together for what we want as residents.”
Asked to tell about their background and qualifications, Hager said that she has a bachelor’s degree in education. “I’ve been teaching for 16 years,” she said. “Before that, I was in veterinary medicine. This is my eighth year on the board. My first love is to [educate] little kids. I have learned a lot of things about this district, and there’s so much that I still don’t know. I’m not afraid to say that because we should always be learning.”
Jordano said that he has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Loyola University, as well as an associate’s degree in business computer programming.
“I have been in the insurance business for more than 30 years, so I have many licenses and education with that,” said Jordano, who also noted his 13 years of military service. “I also have a background in construction with my family business in New Orleans. I was a government contractor for the Department of Energy and Department of Defense for 10 years.”
Martin said that she has a bachelor’s degree in radio and television production and communications from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“I have worked in television sales, as well as retail sales,” she said. “I was a makeup artist cosmetics manager for about 20 years in all the finer stores all over the country. I feel I can communicate well. I feel I can listen well. I have been involved in animal rescue here in Palm Beach County for the last five years. That was one of the reasons I was drawn to this area. I love animals, and I love horses.”
Asked about their view on incorporation of The Acreage, Martin said there does not appear to be a concrete plan in place for incorporation.
“I believe if the majority of residents wanted it, and had a feasible plan, that it would be the best if everybody was involved and on the same page with it,” she said. “There seems to be a lot of different, various things involved with it. I haven’t heard from anybody that they want incorporation… The board does not decide if there is going to be incorporation. They do not have the right to do so. It’s a matter of listening to the residents.”
Hager said she is against incorporation the way that it has been presented. “I like to have control,” she said. “I don’t want to give that away, but that would be on a referendum and presented, so people could vote on what they want. That’s not a decision for the Indian Trail Improvement District supervisors. They could hear it, but we don’t decide on that.”
Jordano said that he is not for incorporation.
“At least not now,” he said. “There’s a lot of pros and cons, and I think the cons outweigh the pros,” he said. “[Supervisor] Ralph Bair actually stepped down because that’s where he wanted to get involved, with incorporation, so this board really doesn’t do that. I believe that it isn’t us, the five of us, who should make any determination on an issue like this. It should be voted on by the people of the community.”
Asked how they would address the impact of residential and commercial developments such as Westlake, G.L. Homes, Avenir and other projects, Jordano said that since ITID only controls its own roads, drainage and parks, it’s hard for the district to control outside development.
“I would go outside the box to try to do things personally, having the designation as a board member but not representing the board,” he said. “I’ve been to Washington, I’ve been to Tallahassee. I have contacts all up and down. I know how to talk with these people. Whoever needs to listen, to see what we can do with our roads and trying to coexist with something we can’t control.”
Martin said she would fight to see that The Acreage is as unaffected as possible.
“That comes down to doing what we can as a board and being responsible for our interior roads that we own,” she said. “We absolutely have to work with the county and the developers in order to mitigate the traffic from our interior roads.”
Hager said that she has been fighting development since the Minto/Westlake inception.
“We already have enormous traffic problems, and it’s an absolute nightmare right now,” she said. “If there is an accident, no one’s going anywhere for a while, and we are about to be inundated, because there’s really no stopping it. I hate to sound like I’m giving in to that. I’m not, but the county keeps allowing it to happen, no matter what we say. The developers that are coming in, it’s going to be part of their agreement to do their fair share with the roads.”