The quandary presented by choosing among 3
According to most Martin County political polls, the largest segment of undecided voters falls in the District 5 County Commission race among incumbent John Haddox and former commissioners Donna Melzer and Ed Ciampi, all Republicans, at least officially.
Perhaps the most “perfect” candidate of the three – if such a thing can exist among such a highly subjective electorate – is John Haddox, a 20-year Navy veteran and former Martin County Director of Veterans Services.
Veterans overwhelmingly supported Haddox in his first run in the 2012 election to fill the seat vacated by Ed Ciampi; however, recognizing Haddox’s environmental activism, he also was supported by Donna Melzer and her group, the Martin County Conservation Alliance.
Haddox remains an environmentalist, spending the last three years as a member of the Coastal Oceans Task Force, earning the respect of a bevy of scientists, professors and county officials from throughout the area, including the counties south of Martin representing six million Floridians.
They have joined Haddox’s lead by using their heavyweight clout to influence the state legislature in funding the projects needed to stop the discharges to the St. Lucie River – once and for all – and move clean water south into the Everglades.
That’s the kind of leadership in resolving Martin County’s water problems that’s so desperately needed right now and should not be interrupted.
He also was the first commissioner to step out front of the All Aboard Florida project, and continues to lead the county’s effort to fight what many consider second only to the destruction of the estuary as the largest threat to residents’ quality of life.
He even was endorsed by renowned environmentalist Nat Reed, the former assistant undersecretary of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, well recognized for his continued role in restoring the Everglades.
So why are Donna Melzer, along with Ginny Sherlock and Maggy Hurchalla, making an all-out effort to discredit Haddox’s record and his candidacy among the county’s environmental activists? Simply because they do not control his votes.
A regular participant at NAC meetings, Haddox fought for the Jensen Beach mooring field and to fund all the Community Redevelopment Area projects, fought by the Sherlock-Melzer-Hurchalla group, and has pledged to re-establish the independent Community Redevelopment Agency if re-elected – of course contingent on Doug Smith retaining his seat and Harold Jenkins ousting Anne Scott’s.
He constantly reminds the county commission majority of Ed Fielding, Sarah Heard and Anne Scott that they are ignoring Chapter 15 – the economic development section – of the Comp Plan, and was the first to advocate moving the fairgrounds to increase tax revenues to the county.
He voted against Hurchalla’s rewrites that would harm farmers, strip an individual’s property rights, and block efforts to eliminate septic effluent into our rivers.
He was the commissioner who first invited EcoGen to present their project to the commission, and has stood up for the Business Development Board, the Martin County Golf Course, strong fire and police departments, and the U.S. Customs Facility, among a host of other interests that are the antithesis of the Sherlock group.
Most of Haddox’s stands would be supported by the enigmatic Ed Ciampi, as well, who has impugned Haddox for casting the fourth “nay” vote against the Pitchford’s Landing redevelopment project and for having been supported early in his political career by Melzer, whose only term in office from 1996-2000 was tainted by lawsuits, public records violations and a Grand Jury investigation – most likely factors in Stuart News’ decision to endorse Haddox, in spite of his major business support.
We favor Haddox because of his commitment to quality-of-life issues and environmental activism, common sense decisions, support of economic development and the CRAs – and his habit of doing more listening than talking.
Most of all, perhaps, we like the idea that he is a full-time commissioner, something that Ciampi admits he cannot be due to his job obligations as an international salesman.
Perhaps Haddox is on target when he says, “I’m being attacked by both sides, so I must be doing something right.” We agree. That’s why Martin County voters should return him to the commission to serve another four years.