Resident Karen Plante is running for Seat 4 of the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council against Robert Shorr. Seat 4 is currently occupied by Mayor Dave Browning, who chose not to seek re-election after four terms in office.
Also on the Tuesday, March 12 ballot will be Seat 2, held by incumbent Vice Mayor Todd McLendon, who is challenged by former Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Supervisor Laura Danowski, and Seat 3, held by incumbent Councilwoman Anita Kane, who is challenged by Lisa El-Ramey.
Originally from New York, Plante moved to Broward County in 1968, and to Loxahatchee Groves with her husband, Dan, about 16 years ago.
“I feel like I’m a Florida resident,” she said. “We lived in Broward, and the growth was tremendous. I would like to see Loxahatchee Groves keep its rural character, and that’s one of the reasons I’m running.”
Plante was a veterinary technician at an emergency clinic in Broward County for 17 years before making a transition into real estate, insurance and retail.
“I went back to school and got an elementary teaching degree [from Florida Atlantic University],” she said. “I don’t teach right now. I taught in Broward. We moved here when my son was born about 16 years ago. I stopped teaching to stay home with him, and I home-schooled him. He is in college now doing dual enrollment.”
Plante is running to see that Loxahatchee Groves is preserved.
“When we incorporated, that is what we intended to do,” she said. “That was everybody’s idea. The reason for it was so that other places didn’t change our character. I think agriculture played a big role in the town. I think it needs to still play a big role and stay that way. I don’t think we need to start chopping up parcels and letting developers come in and have houses on a half-acre or one-acre tracts. It’s not what we intended when we incorporated.”
Plante also believes that the roads need to be fixed.
“This is the worst in the 15-and-a-half years that we have been here that we’ve seen it,” she said. “I think money needs to be spent more wisely. I know people want services, but we have to realize we are a very small town with about 3,500 people. There’s only so much money we can get out of that.”
Plante said she was in town from the beginning, when people were asked what they considered important.
“They were asked questions like, ‘Do you want signage in front of the town? Do you want police? Do you want street lights? Do you want paving?’ And then questions after that, ‘Where is the money coming from? Do you want to pay for it?’” Plante said. “Of course, everybody wants services, but nobody wants to pay for them. I think residents have to be made aware that with higher services, they have to pay higher taxes.”
Plante feels that people who have lived in Loxahatchee Groves the longest are happy with lower services and lower taxes.
“Not a lot of code enforcement, not a lot of services,” Plante said. “I would like to see us back with the sheriff’s office. I think it would be very expensive to start our own police department. And garbage collection, I think they need to review that. I think that has been a hardship on people, having one garbage can or paying for more.”
Plante favors the upcoming referendum asking people if they want to allow the town to take out long-term loans in order to help people wanting paving on their roads in a 50-50 split between the residents and the town.
“I think if there are enough people on a stretch of road who believe in that one, I say give it to them,” Plante said. “I think you have to leave it up to the people… It should be on a case-by-case basis.”
Plante wants the town to go into talks with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to renew the current contract when it expires in October, even though the PBSO has stated that the agency does not intend to renew the contract.
“I think it’s a big expense having your own police department,” she said.
Plante feels the current equestrian trails are OK, but she would like to see more connections to complete the trails.
“I feel like they go nowhere except down each street,” Plante said. “It would be great if they had an equestrian park somewhere in the community. I don’t know how to fund that. I would have to look into that, but we have a park with equestrian trails in it already on E Road. We used to take our horses through there.”
Plante has a horse and pony, as well as other animals, including cows, dogs, emus and parrots, on her five acres.
They recently bought another five acres nearby to fix up. She no longer rides due to a degenerative back condition.
“As much as I love horses, it’s very difficult,” she said. “We love our farm.”
Plante and her son have volunteered at the South Florida Fairgrounds for the past five years, and she is a member of Palm Beach County Homeschoolers, where she was secretary for several years, and works with the Guardian ad Litem Program to help children in the court system.
“You have to take classes and you get a background check, and they want to know your qualities and what you’ve done,” Plante said. “There’s a lot of classes and a lot of learning. They really keep a close eye on you before they let you loose by yourself. It’s very rewarding.”