With each election, hope springs eternal.
Monday, November 21st, 2016 is the day the new Port St Lucie City Council members get sworn in. Congratulations to the three that won their elections.
The rule of three tells us that things that come in threes are more effective and satisfying. Jolien Caraballo briefly served as a councilwoman during Ron Bowen’s suspension. She is the business manager for a local, high-end spa. Caraballo first ran for this position four years ago. Eventually, Ron Bowen won the seat. This time around, Caraballo handily beat Bowen in the August primary. As there were only two candidates, there was no need for a November election. I had the pleasure to meet her on the campaign trail four years ago. She is smart, not afraid to dig into the details and ask questions and thinks outside the box. During the campaign, some complained about the stance Carballo took on the sober homes in the city while serving on the council. I asked her about it and she told me that she had contacted the city council in Delray as they were having the same issues. They went to court and many $10,000’s in attorney fees later things were not looking good. Until the laws change at the federal or state level all we can do is look good while losing a lot of money. To me that’s smart, that’s being pragmatic and mature. Never get into a legal battle if you don’t think you are going to win. (I am reasonably sure the city was Delray. Memory is a rare commodity these days.) Stephanie Morgan received over 50% of the vote against two other contenders to win her race in August as well. Morgan has served on the County P&Z since 2003 and served as chair of that group as well. She was a member of the Port St. Lucie Budget Advisory Committee and the St. Lucie County Citizens Budget Committee. Morgan has been a board member of local charities and organizations as well. You can recognize Morgan by the books, binders, and folders that she carries. She is a wealth of information, and this is her collection of facts, figures, numbers, and notes that keep her on top of her game and ahead of the curve. If she does not know something, she will, and another page gets added to the binders. Most importantly, she does not guess at things. Maybe she will take on the nickname of the ‘scholar’. John Carvelli took the top spot in the primary and then again in the general election. Carvelli served on the St Lucie School Board for 16 years, with a few stints as chair, ending his service in 2010. After leading the charge to implement a program of accountability within the schools, the county rang up 20 A-rated schools in the 2010-2011 school year. After leaving the board, accountability was scrapped, leaving us with only 2 A-rated schools this year. (Only in government can you kick accountability to the curb, fail, and still be assured of keeping your job.) I have only known John for about three months, and in that time my best description for John would be a multi-tasking, multi-faceted, extremely intelligent, laser focused dynamo who believes that everyone’s input is valuable and necessary. After Carvelli met the Energizer Bunny, the bunny quickly hopped off and had to slug down two Red Bulls with a Monster chaser just to keep up. Three additions to the City Council, not one of them could ever be described as a “rubber stamp,” which is probably the best thing one could hope for on the City Council. I, for one, am tired of hearing, “well, this is what staff wanted.” It was disheartening to see Mayor Oravec all too often on the losing end of 4-1 votes when it came to issues involving fiscal responsibility, like paying down the debt. Hopefully now that will change. If you can’t tell by now I am excited and optimistic for the future with these three new additions to the council. Monday will also be the introduction of our new City Manager, Russ Blackburn. We wish him the best. The best way to approach any new job is with eyes and ears open. Having run through city managers at the speed that Kim Kardashian runs through husbands, I hope Mr. Blackburn does not have any preconceived notions of Port St Lucie. Now the City is poised to move forward in a positive direction away from the horrible decisions of the past.
Let’s not forget…
I would be remiss if I did not also congratulate Cathy Townsend on her August victory in winning a seat on the County Commission. BecauseThisMatters.net did endorse Townsend in her bid to unseat the incumbent in a universal primary that was open to the entire county. Townsend adds a much needed business sense to the commission. As the only businessperson on the commission, she knows what it is like to own and operate a business in St Lucie County. I once asked her to rate the county in business friendliness. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best she rated it a 5. I thought she was kind. Hopefully, with her knowledge and perseverance, we can ratchet that up to at least an 8.
Join me in wishing them all well. Remember, their success is our success. While they will all get the benefit of the doubt, no one gets a free pass. We will be watching! [Full disclosure: My company provided paid services to the campaigns of Stephanie Morgan and John Carvelli. No endorsement of either appeared on this website.]