Argue Seeking Third ITID Term; Two More Enter Seat 2 Race

With some 36 hours to go before the end of the qualifying period, five candidates have entered the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors Seat 2 race.

Meanwhile, two-term incumbent Supervisor Betty Argue has filed for re-election to Seat 4 against Natalia Melian Torres, who had filed previously.

In Seat 2, longtime Acreage resident Lou Colantuoni Jr. filed June 6, and two-time previous candidate John Rivera filed June 10.

Supervisor Keith Jordano, a local insurance agency owner, is wrapping up his first term in Seat 2 and has filed for re-election. The other candidates are Kirk Allen Ljongquist and Stian Oksavik. Oksavik has filed, but as of Wednesday had yet to qualify, according to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections web site.

Candidates have until noon Friday, June 14 to qualify for the ballot. If more than two candidates qualify for a race, it will appear on the Tuesday, Aug. 20 primary election ballot. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election, unless a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote and is elected outright. Races that only draw two candidates will skip the primary ballot and be on the general election ballot in November.

“I believe my experience and knowledge are very important,” Argue said Wednesday about her decision to seek a third term. “There are still many things we need to accomplish.”

Issues Argue cited include: seeing to completion the district’s counter suit against Minto Communities USA and the Seminole Improvement District regarding access to ITID roads; getting in place the promised 640-acre reservoir in the M-1 Basin now being held in escrow by GL Homes; and making equestrian trail improvements.

After moving to The Acreage in 2011, Argue unseated longtime Supervisor Michelle Damone in 2016. She automatically returned to the board in 2020 when her only opponent, former Supervisor Carol Jacobs, withdrew from the race. Argue has served multiple stints as ITID president.

The race also brings to the surface the ongoing feud between Argue and County Commissioner Sara Baxter, an Acreage resident who is openly supporting Melian.

“I believe [Melian] is running for the right reasons,” Baxter said this week. “She wants to do what’s best for the residents.”

Argue said she was not surprised by Baxter’s support of her opponent because the commissioner “has been pushing all along for the commercialization and industrialization of our community.”

Melian owns a trucking business with her husband and has been active in the district’s “Save Our Truckers” movement. However, after her May filing, she said that the trucker issue was not a major factor in her decision to run.

“I don’t think [the board] is focusing on the right things,” she said. “They’re using too much money where it could be saved.”

Colantuoni, a Coconut Blvd. resident, said he has lived in the western communities for 45 years. A former powerboat racer, Colantuoni owns a boatyard and dealership in Jupiter.

This week, Colantuoni said he is running in an effort to maintain the district’s semi-rural lifestyle. The Acreage, he said, has to find ways to deal with “surrounding pressure from municipalities and land developers… Preserving our little community’s way of life is something worth getting involved in.”

Argue, a notary public, notarized Colantuoni’s filing papers. She also has worked for Colantuoni in his marine business.

Colantuoni made “an independent decision” to join the Seat 2 race, Argue said. “He came to me as a friend… and asked me to notarize his papers. That doesn’t mean I’m endorsing him.”

For his part, Colantuoni said, “I’ve respected Betty for years. She’s the board’s resident expert.”

Rivera, a Tangerine Blvd. resident, is president and owner of Sunshine Safe & Lock. He has spent time in the district since 1984 and lived in the area since 1999. He previously ran unsuccessfully for Seat 5 in 2018 and 2022.

He said Wednesday that his main reason for entering the race is “taxes are getting out of control… It’s $20 here and $20 there. With the rest of the economy being what it is, retired people and single moms just can’t afford it.”

Rivera would like to see ITID assessments cut.

“I’d like to see a three percent per year reduction over the next four years,” he said, while adding that goal may be overly ambitious depending on other factors. “I will not vote for a tax increase. Not one dollar. I’ll always vote against it.”

Rivera said that “the community is just so divided” that he would like to see more parks and recreation programming that will “bring people and families together as friends and neighbors.”