DeSantis wants fresh start, sinks South Florida Water Management District Board

DeSantis wants fresh start, sinks South Florida Water Management District Board (WPEC)

The Treasure Coast is no stranger to water issues.

All summer long, the waterways were full of toxic gunk, something Gov. Ron DeSantis witnessed before he was elected.

"I'm coming here today to follow through with what I said I would do," he said.

Then DeSantis, in his second full day as governor, called for a fresh start at the South Florida Water Management District.

The governor sent letters to all board members, asking for their resignations, just months after the Treasure Coast fell under another toxic algae crisis.

"We do just need a fresh start so we can move together as Floridians united," DeSantis said.

The announcement came during a news conference in Stuart where the governor was expected to make a major water policy announcement.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-Stuart) backed the change, after calling for the board to resign last month.

“For far too long the South Florida Water Management District has been more accountable to special interests than to the people of Florida. That changes today, and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor DeSantis to find replacements who make our waterways and environment the number one priority," Mast said.

Mast recommended two people to be on the South Florida Water Management District Board: former State Senator Joe Negro, who was not interested in the position, and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a Martin County community activist. She released the following statement in regards to this recommendation:

”I am honored that Congressman Mast has put forth my name to be considered by Governor DeSantis for a position on the South Florida Water Management District. I certainly would give voice to the many who for years have experienced taxation without representation as the degradation of our waters, quality of life, and wildlife continued. My long term dedication to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon is clear. It is so exciting to see Governor DeSantis make our state waters a priority of his administration. We can all rest assured that for our waters and the environment the next four years should be better than the last!”

But DeSantis himself did not say who he would put in these positions.

"I think I just want good people who are willing to do the right thing," he said.

However, James Moran, a South Florida Water Management District governing board member and Wellington resident, says he won’t resign.

Moran is “very surprised” and says this move is unprecedented and has never happened before in the history of the district. He says “it’s not in the district’s best interest.”

According to Moran, it’s hard to bring in new board members with no experience. He says we don’t serve at the pleasure of the governor and while he respects DeSantis, he won’t resign. He says he’ll stay on until his term expires March 1.

Brandon Tucker, of Palm City, also says he won’t resign.

"We’ve done a lot of good work and I want to see it through," he said. "I’m not prepared to just stop the good work and quit and walk away.”

Tucker’s term expires March 2021.

Earlier in the day, DeSantis signed an executive order for state agencies to work together to secure $2.5 billion to help restore the Everglades and protect water resources, a $1 million increase.

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