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The Town-Crier


October 26 - November 1, 2012 Page 3


Rep. Abruzzo: Pro-Business Platform, Record Of Successful Bills By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report After four years in the legislature, State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-District 85) is seeking a promotion, running for the newly drawn State Senate District 25 seat on a platform that focuses on his pro-business record. Abruzzo faces Republican Melanie Peterson on Nov. 6 for a seat that covers all of the western communities, spanning from Palm Beach Gardens in the north to western Boca Raton in the south, also taking in the Glades. Abruzzo moved to Palm Beach County as a teenager to attend Lynn University, where he served as student body president. “I was always very active in the community,” he said. “I won the humanitarian award from the board of trustees at Lynn upon graduation.” He then went to work for an international marketing company and became the youngest executive on staff. He joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, eventually becoming a port security specialist. He is still a reservist, completing his eighth and final year, with plans to reenlist. At age 28, Abruzzo won a seat in the legislature in 2008, securing re-election in 2010. Abruzzo said he has worked hard representing the western communities in Tal-

lahassee. “There’s a saying here in Wellington: You’re either a workhorse or a show horse,” he said. “I went to Tallahassee to be a workhorse. It was very important to me to pass good laws for our community and bring home funds to the district, as well as have incredible community outreach and service from our district office. I believe we accomplished all three goals.” Abruzzo currently works for the law firm Weiss, Handler, Angelos & Cornwell as a public relations and public policy consultant. He also does work for nonprofit organizations trying to secure grants. In his time in the legislature, Abruzzo has seen 20 bills he sponsored become law, some inspired by local people. They include Nicole’s Law, named in memory of young Acreage rider Nicole Hornstein, which requires children 16 or younger to wear helmets while riding horseback in public areas, and the Ivonne Rodriguez and Victoria McCullough Horse Protection Act, which protects horses from illegal slaughter. “Florida became the first state in the union to make horse slaughter a felony,” he said of the law, which also protects horses from abuse, abandonment or neglect. “Overall, it was a comprehensive bill hailed by the animal rights community.”

Another top accomplishment was sponsoring the bipartisan Silver Alert law with Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto. “Anytime you see a Silver Alert — that’s when a senior goes missing — the credit really goes to Sheriff Ric Bradshaw because he has returned more seniors from the Silver Alert system than any other lawenforcement agency in the state,” Abruzzo said. He also initiated an effort to set up a fund for military families so that when a soldier is deployed, his or her family will be able to receive some support. Also benefiting military personnel, Abruzzo was instrumental in legislation passed in 2011 enabling veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or drug and alcohol addiction who are convicted of a crime to get treatment. “If they were convicted of a crime, there was no way for judges to send them to treatment. They would just have to send them straight to jail,” he said. “Now judges have the opportunity to have a hearing before sentencing.” Depending upon the seriousness of the crime, a judge could decide to mandate treatment rather than jail. Abruzzo believes this proven ability to get good laws enacted makes him the best choice for voters in District 25. If elected

to the Senate, his top goals include returning money to the district, legislation that would prohibit texting while driving, and enacting a statewide law limiting animal euthanasia. “I’m very concerned about new drivers who are just learning to drive watching movies and texting on their phone, with distractions in the back seat from their friends,” he said. Some counties already have laws requiring animal shelters to call three certified adoption agencies prior to euthanizing cats and dogs, he said, explaining that counties with that policy euthanize only about 50 percent of the animals that are left with them, whereas counties without the policy euthanize 90 percent. “I’m trying to pass a statewide law that will say that every county has to have this policy in place,” he said. To specifically help Palm Beach County, Abruzzo strongly supports the proposed inland port hub in the Glades area. He also supports an airport in that area. “In the Glades area, it is important to get that inland port done,” he said. “The unemployment is devastating.” Part of improving the economy, Abruzzo said, is putting a focus on education. “For jobs to come here and stay here, you have to have a skilled work force,” he said. “Our geographical location will only

State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo get us so far. We must invest in improving our public education.” Abruzzo noted that it’s predicted the state will have more revenue next year — the first time that has happened since he has been in office — but even if there is another deficit, there is no room for more See ABRUZZO, page 8

Peterson Puts Focus On Small Business, Equestrian Background By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report Melanie Peterson hopes voters will see her dedication to the community and choose her to represent State Senate District 25 in Tallahassee. Peterson, an equestrian businesswoman, won the District 25 Republican nod by narrowly defeating attorney Geoff Sommers in an August primary. She now faces Democratic nominee State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo (D-District 85) in the Nov. 6 general election. The newly drawn District 25 takes in all of the western communities while encompassing most of central and western Palm Beach County, starting in the northwest at Lake Okeechobee, cutting east through Palm Beach Gardens and then back west, south through Wellington into western Boca Raton, and west across to Belle Glade. Peterson is a 25-year resident of central Palm Beach County. She was raised by her single mother until she remarried. Peterson said that growing up with a single mother and experiencing what it was like living in poverty motivated her to want to help the community. “I got to experience moving from severe poverty to a middle-class home with a functional family and food on the ta-

ble,” she said. “I have a different perspective when it comes to social issues. I still come from a stance of fiscal responsibility and limited government. My mother is now a business owner herself. She started the family business out of her garage.” A graduate of Santaluces High School, Peterson has a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and was a Marshall Fellow. In 2002, she co-wrote a booklet about agricultural best management practices in South Florida as part of the fellowship, which brought her notoriety in agricultural circles. “I put myself through college,” she said. “When I graduated high school, I didn’t have enough scholarship money to go to the school I had been accepted to. So I turned professional in the equestrian industry and worked for six years and saved enough money to pay for one year of college here at [Palm Beach State College]. I then earned three years of academic scholarship to finish at FAU.” For the past decade, she has volunteered with the Florida Farm Bureau, serving on its Equine Advisory Board for eight years. She is a member of the Young Farmer and Rancher Leadership Committee. In 2006, she was elected to a seat on the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

Peterson has spent 18 years in the equestrian industry, working as a trainer, Realtor and founder of a marketing and equestrian sales web site. She began riding through her work with the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center. Peterson has served as a board member of the Palm Beach County Horseman’s Association and the Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council. If elected, Peterson said that she will work hard for residents. “I don’t take no for an answer,” she said. “I don’t like the word ‘can’t,’ and I don’t give up. I’ve seen so many people come from nothing that I know it can be repeated. People just need a help up.” Peterson said her top goal would be bringing jobs to the area, along with dealing with foreclosure, home insurance and education woes. “We have to have more job creation,” she said. “We have to diversify job creation in this county. We have to look at our trade opportunities.” Peterson said that her goals are interlinked, noting that businesses are attracted to areas with good education and housing opportunities. “We have to create an atmosphere where corporations want to have their base here,” she said. “Most companies




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tell me they don’t come here because there isn’t a skilled work force. They say the cost of living is so high because the homeowners’ insurance is so high, people can’t buy homes. All of these issues are interconnected, and if we continue to look at them separately, they will continue to fail.” Peterson said that although much of Palm Beach County has seen a revitalization, the central portions have been overlooked. “I think we have a whole area of our county that has been left for the vultures,” she said. “Between here and I-95 is this massive area of aging development. No one is redeveloping or revitalizing the interior of the county, and I think it’s a shame. There are a lot of communities that need those thriving shopping centers and small businesses.” Peterson said she would encourage businesses to revitalize the area by offering tax breaks and business incentives. She also would pay special attention to the communities in the Glades. Peterson pointed out that there is an enterprise zone that stretches from Pahokee to Riviera Beach, two communities with very different needs. “You have two different kinds of enterprise,” she said. “You have a rural area

Melanie Peterson and an urban area. I think we should apply for a modification that would split them, putting the Glades area in a rural enterprise zone. They qualify for different things. We have these communities out west competing [with Riviera Beach] for See PETERSON, page 20

Town-Crier Newspaper October 26, 2012  

Local news for Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, The Acreage

Town-Crier Newspaper October 26, 2012  

Local news for Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, The Acreage