It takes more than a slingshot to fell this candidate

It takes more than a slingshot to fell this candidate

Let’s take a moment to look at the candidates for the District 2 seat on the Martin County Commission, currently held by Ed Fielding, under indictment for violating public records laws and not seeking re-election. He will go to trial in criminal court in December.

We find it interesting that our local daily paper used Fielding as the measuring stick to recommend Joe Banfi to take his place, although a civil court already determined that Fielding and his cohorts violated the law, costing taxpayers $502,000 in sanctions.

Frankly, we want a much higher standard in transparency for our next county commissioner.

We also want someone with a solid record of achievement, and someone who is more in touch with the multitude of issues facing Martin County families than Fielding … or Banfi.

We want Stacey Hetherington. Even the daily paper admitted she is “a strong candidate.”

Her transparency is evident on her website and her Facebook page, where she tells you exactly what she believes as the elected Republican state committeewoman and as a mother. She tells you what she stands for on a multitude of issues, including Brightline, on our Community Redevelopment Areas, on taxes – as well as the environment and the issues with our waterways.

She also posts videotapes of all eight forums in which she participated. The public can see that Banfi attended only three. The daily paper called Banfi, who has no party affiliation, a “one-issue candidate.” We agree, and his Facebook page is nothing more than a lesson in attacks and fear-mongering, not facts.

Hetherington has a stunning record of broad community service, raising thousands of dollars for children and families and named as the county’s appointee to the Coastal Working Group to protect our vital coastal reefs, directed by the widely respected coastal engineer, Kathy Fitzpatrick.

This outreach gives Hetherington the edge in understanding the needs of her community and demonstrates her capacity for hard work.

Banfi, on the other hand, has no lifetime record of community service. He’s 71, yet has been so disengaged, with no record of community involvement until 18 months ago, that he did not even register to vote until 2002.

He attempts to convince residents that he’s the guy who wrote the Comprehensive Growth Management Plan. In reality, he was a staff employee. The county commission at the time hired a consultant to write the state-mandated plan.

If Banfi were the author of the Comp Plan in his role as a staff member, then he should also take responsibility for writing the county’s much-maligned agreements with Lake Point Restoration and the South Florida Management District, which also were his staff assignments, along with other controversial projects over his 30-year county career.

Although Banfi once attempted to launch a small business near Port Salerno, he has been a fierce opponent of CRAs that support small businesses. He’s criticized CRAs often in his role as an LPA member over the past 18 months, as well as in a blistering guest column in the local newspaper three years ago. In forums and on his web page, however, he says he supports the CRAs.

Somehow, that sounds rather disingenuous. We’re not sure he even understands the value or role of CRAs in ensuring that small businesses flourish, or in fostering infill development and fighting sprawl. We are sure, however, that we don’t want to have another commissioner who says one thing in public and does another on the dais.

Much also has been said about Hetherington’s ability to raise $74,000 from hundreds of donors for her campaign, but she’s given no credit for the hard work that requires. Hard work is not new to this Indiantown native, who held down a part-time job through high school, even with her extracurricular activities and volunteering as a Candy Striper at Martin Memorial. She carried those habits with her to the University of Florida as a journalism major and to this day.

Her struggle to raise her sons here, to share in the legacy of her parents and grandparents who also were born and raised here gives us confidence that no one will work harder to solve our water issues. No one else can come close to her fierce commitment to this place, or to ensure Martin County’s quality of life is available to all who live here … or that her sons will be able to one day make a living here.

We laughed at the paper’s characterization of Hetherington as “Goliath.” It’s actually a compliment to her tenacity, to her ability to overcome obstacles, and to her ability to get things done. She’s only 43, going up against many of the most established power brokers in this county, which also reveals her fearlessness.

This is one battle we believe “Goliath” will win, not due to greater strength, but due to greater character.