Page 8 October 26 - November 1, 2012
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Drew Martin, Stephen Jara Face Off For Seat On Little-Known Board By Lauren Miró Town-Crier Staff Report Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation District Vice Chair Drew Martin faces a challenge from Stephen Jara as he seeks re-election Nov. 6. Florida’s soil and water conservation districts were established in 1937 to assist and advise individuals, groups and local governments with conserving and preserving natural resources. There are 63 in the state. Palm Beach County’s board has four members, each elected in a nonpartisan, countywide election. Board members receive no salary for the position and are elected to four-year terms. Martin, the Seat 2 incumbent, is seeking his second term. Martin, 58, was first elected in 2008. He lives in Lake Worth with his wife. For two decades prior, he had been known as an environmental activist. From 2007 to 2008, he co-chaired the Everglades Coalition. “That’s a coalition of 57 environmental groups with millions of members, all actively trying to restore and preserve the Everglades,” he said. Martin sat as the conservation chairman of the Loxahatchee Group of the Sierra Club, which represents Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, and also volunteered with the club’s Everglades, water quality and waste minimization committees. In 2010, he was awarded the
Environmental Champion “We promote the use of agriAward from John D. Maccultural land. Agricultural Arthur Beach State Park and land can hold more water than won the Everglades Coalideveloped land.” tion’s Kabler Award in 2012 He said that homeowners for his work preserving the can also help. “We encourEverglades. age people to maintain ponds Martin holds a bachelor’s on their properties,” Martin degree in history from the said. “Ponds absorb runoff University of California at water, and if they’re removed, Davis, a master’s degree in inthe property is more likely to Drew Martin Stephen Jara ternational management from flood.” the American Graduate School of Martin said. “We’ve had a lot of Ultimately, Martin said that votInternational Management in Ari- success with it. One of our high ers should choose him because he zona and a Certificate of Business school teams even competed in is an activist who will advocate for Data Processing from UC Berke- the national tournament.” better environmental policies. “I ley. Martin said that if re-elected, he have been an advocate for the Martin said he is an active par- hopes to continue this program environment for 20 years,” he said. ticipant at Palm Beach County and others. “I think it’s important to have an governmental meetings, especial“I want to continue the success- advocate on the board.” ly those dealing with soil and wa- ful programs we have,” he said. “I Jara, 48, is a longtime resident ter conservation. also want to get the district more and real-estate broker with a “I try to stay abreast of the is- involved in water-related issues.” strong background in agriculture. sues in the county,” he said. “I’ve Although the district has no di- He lives in Boynton Beach with taken a lot of time to educate my- rect control over water usage, his wife and two children. self on soil and water issues. I’ve Martin said he believes the board When Jara was a boy, his father been very active with the staff of has a role to play in discussions owned a landscape and sprinkler the Solid Waste Authority.” of water management and best business along with a tree nursAmong his top accomplish- practices. ery, and he grew up working with ments since taking office have “The board is not a permitting his father. been balancing the district’s bud- authority,” he said. “Drainage isJara holds a bachelor’s degree get and hosting successful Envi- sues go through the South Flori- in hospitality management from rothons. da Water Management District, so Florida State University. He has “I have a financial background, I can’t make promises that I can worked at many prestigious counwhich has helped me balance the change things. But I can help to try clubs. Currently, he is the presbudget,” he said. encourage better policies.” ident and managing broker of PrisEach year, the district hosts the Speaking specifically of issues Palm Beach County Envirothon, in The Acreage regarding floodan educational program that puts ing, Martin said that his board can high school students in teams and promote good use of land to hanpits them against each other to dle water. “A lot of the reasons solve questions about environ- these flooding events happen is mental issues. “It’s a great event,” because of development,” he said.
County OKs Tax Incentives For Pratt & Whitney’s Expansion By Ron Bukley Town-Crier Staff Report The Palm Beach County Commission last week gave Pratt & Whitney’s Florida Engine Delivery Center a package of incentives designed to help bring new jobs to the area. The Oct. 16 vote provides local financial support in an ad valorem tax exemption not to exceed $700,000 over a seven-year period, and a job growth incentive grant not to exceed $300,000 over a four-year period. The new business venture will be located in the United Technologies site off the Beeline Highway. Assistant County Administra-
tor Shannon LaRocque said the engine delivery plant will be a significant addition to the county’s aviation and aerospace cluster. “This project was important to us because it is Pratt & Whitney growing the commercial aircraft sector of our aviation cluster,” LaRocque told the Town-Crier this week. She said that Pratt & Whitney now is operating only the noncommercial segment of its operations here. “Commercial aircraft is a target industry, and it’s in our aviation and aerospace cluster, which is very important for us. It has a significant economic impact.”
When county staff ran the numbers, based on Pratt & Whitney making a $63 million capital investment, creating 230 new jobs over 10 years with an average annual salary of a little over $81,000, they calculated the economic impact at about $422 million over a 10-year period. “That’s the number we use to establish how much money we’re going to offer a company,” she said. LaRocque explained that noncommercial aviation operations are dependent on the federal government. “It’s diversifying the market,” she said. “You still have the See PRATT, page 20
Senate District 25 Democrat
continued from page 3 cuts. “We cannot cut vital services any more when it comes to health services and education,” he said. One way to gain additional revenue would be to reach a better gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe. “I voted against the Seminole Gaming Compact originally, not because I’m anti-gaming, but because I thought it was such a poor deal for the state,” he said. “We gave the Seminoles a monopoly on playing card games for about $150 million a year. They’re grossing over $2 billion a year. I said from the get-go we should be getting $500 million. We truly should be getting about $750 million. If you have extra games like roulette and craps, it should be a $1 billion-a-year deal.”
tine Properties, as well as the owner of a cattle ranch and tree farm. “We specialize in agricultural real estate,” Jara said. He noted that his company is a participant of Cabela’s Trophy Properties, a distinction given to select property brokers from the hunting and wildlife supplies corporation popular in the Midwest. Jara has a GREEN designation from the National Association of Realtors. He has served as president-elect of the Okeechobee County Board of Realtors and sits on several boards and committees, including the Coastal Conservation Association South Palm Beach and the Snook & Gamefish Foundation. “I’m from a second-generation agricultural family,” he said. “I was born and raised here. This commission is about helping folks, mostly agriculture businesses, family businesses and landowners. It’s about common sense, not about bringing special interests or issues not pertaining to soil and water.” Jara said that he wanted to run because of his interest in agriculture. “The conservation district appealed to me,” he said. “With roots in agriculture, it’s something I find important. I want to assist
landowners in the county on how to best utilize their natural resources.” If elected, Jara said he would focus on education. “It’s really about teaching how to best use our water systems so we don’t erode soil and overuse water,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to give my expertise in agriculture back to these folks.” He said that he would be a new set of eyes and ears and could hopefully help, in an advisory capacity, with some of the county’s water woes, notably those with flooding in The Acreage. “I would hope that someone would recognize me as having an agricultural background and understand the necessities of best management practices,” Jara said. “I believe the water management districts have done their best to prevent flooding. I would do anything I could do to help in the situation. I think it’s very important.” He said that voters should choose him because of his deep knowledge of the community. “I am very relatable,” Jara said. “I hope voters recognize my sincere love for Palm Beach County and its natural resources. Coupled with my agricultural background, I think I’m a perfect fit.”
Much legislation was passed last year that he disagreed with, but the budget was the worst, Abruzzo said. “I’ve voted against the budget every year,” he said. “They’ve been cutting education by billions of dollars. They made a big PR stunt that they were improving education by a billion dollars. That is really not the case. We’re back to the Jeb Bush era of funding education.” Abruzzo also disagrees with raising fees for driver’s licenses, tags, registration and court costs to make up for other revenue losses. “I don’t want to hit seniors and working-class families,” he said. “I consider raising college tuition a hidden tax on families.” Abruzzo said his views sharply differentiate him from his opponent. “I believe we see eye-to-eye on many economic issues. However, when it comes to the social issues, which is the bulk of the legislation we see in Tallahassee, we are at opposite ends of the spectrum,” he said. “I am pro-choice, she is pro-life; I am for civil rights,
specifically in the gay community, [but] she will not take a position. She stands with Gov. Scott on many issues… I’m on the other side of where Gov. Scott is the majority of the time. I’m a fiscally conservative Democrat, but I am a social liberal. She is a conservative through and through.” Aside from his record in the legislature, Abruzzo is also proud of his work helping constituents. “We’re running a positive campaign on the record we have amassed, and our vision for the future,” he said. “When it comes to constituent services, we have handled thousands of constituent concerns and issues over the last four years.” He believes voters in District 25 have a clear choice when going to the polls. “It’s coming down to a clear election — do you want somebody with experience and a record and a vision who’s a Democrat versus somebody who is running a dirty campaign completely bankrolled by the Republican Party of Florida,” Abruzzo said.
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