Five candidates will be seeking two Loxahatchee Groves Town Council seats in the Tuesday, March 19 municipal election. The candidates were set at the end of the qualifying period at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
In the Seat 1 race, two-term incumbent Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia is being challenged by resident Robert Sullivan.
In the Seat 3 race, incumbent Councilwoman Marianne Miles is facing a challenge from two former council members, Anita Kane and Todd McLendon.
Each council seat is up for a three-year term. The 2024 municipal election will be held concurrently with Florida’s presidential primary election.
Phillis Maniglia — Originally from Long Island, Seat 1 incumbent Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia moved to Florida in 1985 and to Loxahatchee Groves in 1989. The former drywall finisher said, “I know how to work hard.”
A resident of 6th Court North, she works today as a residential real estate broker.
Maniglia has served on the council since defeating incumbent Councilman Ron Jarriel in 2018. She held off a challenge from former Councilman David DeMarois in 2021.
Maniglia said she is running for another term because, “I feel like the town has gone backward.”
“I have an obligation to protect my town, my neighbors and the taxpayers,” she said. “I’m a watchdog for the people.”
As usual, Maniglia said, the major issues in the race and facing the town will be roads and drainage.
“I want to make this clear — I’m not anti-paving. I’m anti not doing it properly,” she said, pointing to problems with Collecting Canal Road, which she called “a mess and a danger.”
She calls some of the town’s previous paving projects “paving for votes,” adding that the town “has put in roads without drainage. Now we’re paying for it.”
Aside from dealing with ongoing infrastructure issues, Maniglia said her major goal in a third term would be to get some fresh faces on the town’s volunteer advisory boards.
“We need to get more people involved and open up the committees,” she said.
Robert Sullivan — F Road resident Robert Sullivan grew up in Hialeah, but he said his family has owned property in Loxahatchee Groves since 1972.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, Sullivan occupied various positions with two of the nation’s major elevator firms. He retired from a management position with Otis after 42 years in the industry.
He lived for 20 years in Royal Palm Beach, but Sullivan has been a Loxahatchee Groves resident for the last 25 years. “And don’t plan on leaving,” he said.
Sullivan is married and has three children and six grandchildren.
Sullivan said this week he “loves Loxahatchee Groves” and now that he is retired and has time, he entered the council race because he “hopes to do some good.”
Roads and drainage are the major issues, he said, but beyond that, he needs time to dig into other aspects of town government before making a judgment.
Sullivan said that the biggest asset he would bring to the job is his 10 years in management “running a multi-million-dollar operation… I’m a problem solver.”
Anita Kane — Anita Kane is a Maryland native who has lived in Loxahatchee Groves for 13 years.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mary Baldwin College, a master’s degree in teaching from Trinity College and has a graduate-level certification in Montessori teaching. She is co-founder of #1 Education Place, a kindergarten through 12th grade private school based in Wellington.
An equestrian, Kane said she was drawn to Loxahatchee Groves because it afforded her space for her horses and other animals.
Kane was appointed to the council in December 2018 to fill a vacancy but was unseated in March 2019 by former Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey. The North Road resident currently serves as chair of the town’s Finance Advisory & Audit Committee.
“We need to put in appropriate infrastructure to serve… the growing population,” Kane said, noting that drainage is an ongoing issue.
In order to maintain its rural, equestrian ethos, the town needs to do a better job developing its equestrian facilities, she said.
Kane said that she is running because she sees “a lot of factions with a lot of different interests” in Loxahatchee Groves and wants to “promote some unity in our town.”
If elected, Kane said her goal would be to “look at all sides of issues and make intelligent decisions.”
Todd McLendon — Todd McLendon was born and raised in West Palm Beach and moved to Loxahatchee Groves in 2005. He’s divorced with two children and owns a computer-driven air conditioning business.
In 2016, McLendon defeated former Councilman Jim Rockett for Seat 2 but lost his bid for a second term to Mayor Laura Danowski in 2019. He ran against Danowski again in 2022 and lost.
McLendon is a resident of D Road and currently serves on the town’s Unified Land Development Committee.
Roads and drainage remain the major issues facing the town, McLendon said. Those issues are siphoning away town resources often because of shoddy planning and engineering, McLendon said, citing a recent collapse on Collecting Canal Road as a prime example.
“No engineering was done on that road at all,” he said, adding that several roads that were recently paved are already failing.
“I’ve been in the construction industry for 30 years,” he said. “I’m good at looking at plans and engineering.”
Feeding into the problem, he said is a high turnover rate in the Public Works Department.
“Something drastic is going on there,” he said, adding that when good employees can’t be retained it “contributes to excessive spending… and costs the taxpayers money.”
Asked why he is seeking to return to the council, McLendon said, “The money [for roads] is not being spent wisely… I think I can do better.”
Marianne Miles — The incumbent in the Seat 3 race, Councilwoman Marianne Miles defeated Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey in 2021 to win the seat with a focus on improving the town’s roads. A resident of B Road, she is seeking her second three-year term. Miles declined to be interviewed for this article.