A year after an election where the town of Jupiter elected a new mayor for the first time in 26 years and two new councilmen, the top issue hasn’t changed: growth, and how best to manage it.
And as before, this year’s election remains focused on one specific area of the town: the Inlet Village on State Road A1A.
But there is more to be concerned with in this growing “village by the sea.” There’s finding a new town manager to replace the departing Andy Lukasik; prioritizing capital improvements with money from the penny sales tax increase; and working to mitigate the increasingly heavy traffic on Indiantown Road — especially from Central Boulevard west.
Indeed, as the vexing votes on a multi-million dollar trash-hauling contract showed, there is more than one issue of significance to which councilman must pay attention and keep their finger on the pulse of residents. After voting 3-1 to follow the recommendation of staff and award the contract to Ponte Vedra-based Advanced Disposal, the council weeks later reversed itself in a 4-1 vote and decided to stay with Waste Management. Residents overwhelmingly wanted to stay with Waste Management, despite the fact that it charges $4 more per month.
From the field of six candidates in Tuesday’s election, the Post once again recommends Ben Klug and Wayne Posner to wrestle with these problems with an eye toward bridging a stubborn divide in the town.
COUNCIL DISTRICT 1: Posner, 67, is seeking to retain the seat after serving out the final year of Mayor Todd Wodraska’s council term. As we said last year, Posner, a former contractor who served on the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, brings “a practical eye” that will work to keep development in scale while respecting property rights. He also opposed awarding the trash contract to Advanced Disposal from the beginning.
Posner is up against Carol Watson, whom he defeated for the seat last year; and Teri Grooms, who started the online petition to stop developer Charles Modica’s Love Street project. Both support a moratorium on development. Watson, a massage therapist and member of the town’s Beach Committee, would also support a bond referendum to buy more land, and building a senior center and veterans memorial. Grooms, 45, is a Jupiter native who wants “no more retail shops and offices on the Inlet.”
COUNCIL DISTRICT 2: Klug, a 38-year-old custom metal fabricator, brings a similar practical approach to Posner’s as to managing growth and not allowing “overdevelopment.” Like Posner, he is fine with a final Love Street plan that is smaller than the original and eliminates the troublesome land swap between the town and Modica. But it’s Klug’s desire to “represent everything Jupiter” that gives him an edge. From finding a way to improve critical police and fire-rescue radio communications on the beach to supporting the work at El Sol to helping businesses work with the town’s workforce housing ordinance.
Businessman Ron Delaney, who defeated Klug last year, is running again to keep his seat. Delaney, 53, said the council needs to slow down and mitigate development on the waterfront. “A majority of the residents don’t feel the council is listening to them,” he said, adding that he voted against the Love Street project, as promised. Political newcomer Heidi Epstein also opposed the Love Street and Suni Sands plans. Epstein, 53, said she is concerned not enough thought is being given to the “social implications” of allowing too much growth such as increased traffic.
Palm Beach Post endorsements for the March 14 municipal elections will be posted online throughout this week on a city by city basis. They will be published in total in the Sunday, March 12, print edition.