Longtime community leader and former Councilwoman Marge Herzog is challenging incumbent Councilman David DeMarois for Seat 5 of the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council in the Tuesday, March 17 election.
Herzog, 78, sat on the first council after the town incorporated in 2006. Elected in 2007, she served an initial two-year term but was unseated in 2009 by former Councilman Ryan Liang. Since then, she has served as Loxahatchee Groves Landowners’ Association president and has been active with a number of charitable and veterans’ service organizations.
“I’m resilient and dedicated to the town,” she told the Town-Crier on Wednesday.
Herzog said she is running to bring the focus back to some of the reasons why the town originally decided to incorporate. Herzog, who participated in the town’s incorporation committee, questions whether council members are listening to the wishes of the people who participated in studies about what they want on Southern and Okeechobee boulevards.
“We incorporated to protect the rural lifestyle that we have here in Loxahatchee Groves, not to have high-density development,” she said.
Herzog said her goal is to be an advocate for those residents.
“They keep increasing the salary for council members,” she said. “We served for years with no remuneration. We did it because it was something that we wanted to do. We were determined that we were going to make it work.”
Her vision for the town is to restrict commercial development to Southern Blvd., no farther north than Tangerine Drive.
“I don’t know if there is a need for an overlay,” she said. “People keep trying to push to get things beyond the Tangerine line, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have an overlay there for the Southern commercial.”
Herzog sees no need for any more commercial land use than what has been approved.
“If you have nurseries there that are allowed to sell locally without too much of a volume, I wouldn’t want to see large [operations] with many trucks,” she said. “It has to be something that fits in with the community.”
She is also concerned about the number of trucks that go in and out of the town and their impact on roads.
“They probably pay a business tax to be here but is their impact more than what they’re paying?” she asked. “Also, we have to be careful of what we allow in the neighborhoods. There is a definite need for overlays all over the place.”
Herzog suggested that town property should be assessed based on what is actually being done there.
“If you’re sneaking in structures [under] the Right to Farm Act, you should pay the consequences,” Herzog said, explaining that she feels incorrect reporting of a business operation is depriving the town of taxes that it is entitled to.
Herzog became active with the LGLA in 1995, about the time that the organization completed its neighborhood plan, and later became involved with the incorporation effort. “I liked their determination, and I decided I would run for office,” she said.
Two years later, Herzog said she was defeated after she and other council members advocated making the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District dependent to the town — an idea that was originally controversial but eventually came to pass.
Once off the board, Herzog was elected LGLA president, a position that she has held since. She also leads the American Legion Post 367 Auxiliary and has devoted time transporting disabled veterans who live in the area to appointments at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Palm Beach. “Sometimes my whole day is dedicated to driving and waiting at the VA for them,” she said.
Herzog is vice president of the William Paterson University Alumni of South Florida. She attended William Paterson to study elementary education and was certified to teach kindergarten through 12th grade and subsequently spent 28 years teaching third grade in Parsippany, N.J.
After retiring from teaching in 1993, she moved to the Fort Lauderdale area with her husband, George, who died in 2018. They soon realized that Fort Lauderdale was too crowded and found property in Loxahatchee Groves in 1995.
“I have been active in community representation since I moved here to live,” Herzog said. “I have also been busy working as a volunteer for various nonprofit organizations since arriving 25 years ago.”
Herzog also pioneered an effort to get a popularly elected supervisor on the LGWCD board, which required a special legislative act. In 2012, the first popularly elected supervisor was sworn in.
She is critical of her opponent, who she noted has frequently attended meetings by telephone.
“I will be at the meetings,” Herzog said. “When I was on the first council, I went to the [Palm Beach County] League of Cities, the Western [Communities] Council. Whatever the town required a meeting for, the council members asked me to go and represent the town.”
Herzog noted that this year’s campaign is longer than previously due to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office changing the election period requirements. However, she said she has developed a strategy to overcome what she anticipates being strong opposition from DeMarois backers.
“I’ve got a plan for how I’m going to be different than the last time in my campaigning, and it seems to be very well received by the residents,” Herzog said.