Published On: Thu, Dec 6th, 2018

The Wheels of Government Continue to Turn as Transition Occurs

By: Robert S Weinroth

November was a month of transition. Nationwide, midterm elections were closely watched to determine the temperament of the electorate. The balance of power shifted in the US House of Representatives giving many of our locally elected Members of Congress a greater say in shaping the national agenda over the next two years.

Locally, as a result of term limits, a number of races were held for open seats. Term limited Governor Rick Scott will be sworn into office on January 8th as our next US Senator succeeding to the seat currently occupied by Senator Bill Nelson. Congressman Ron DeSantis will be sworn into office as Florida’s 46th governor.

Florida House District 89, previously represented by term limited Rep. Bill Hager was another seat where a change will occur.. After a long delayed recount, Mike Caruso was declared the winner of a bitter contest waged between him and former Ocean Ridge Mayor James Bonfiglio. His ultimate margin of victory was just 32 votes demonstrating, once again, that every person’s vote matters.

Another change resulting from term limits was the departure of Steven Abrams as the District 4 representative on the Board of County Commissioners.

Abrams has been a long time public servant, having been first elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 1989 and mayor in 2001. In 2009 he was appointed to the commission by, then, governor Charlie Crist and was re-elected twice to four-year terms.

Abrams was recently named executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, succeeding Jack Stephens, who will retire at the end of the year.

Abrams served on the SFRTA board for eight years before he stepped aside to offer himself as a candidate for the position of executive director. He became known as the “commuting commissioner” during his tenure as a result of his regular use of Tri-Rail to get to his offices in Delray Beach and West Palm Beach from his residence in Boca Raton.

During his tenure, Abrams represented the SFRTA in negotiations with Briteline, which led to an agreement to bring direct Tri-Rail service into downtown Miami and will, hopefully, be the catalyst for Tri-Rail service traveling along the eastern (FEC) tracks (through the downtown urban areas of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties).

Palm Beach County prides itself on its ability to attract new and relocating businesses to our city. Several years ago we added a business development manager to help facilitate this effort. It has been a collaborative effort with the state and municipalities, which has resulted in greater economic opportunities for our residents.

Public transpiration will become increasingly important to the future mobility of our residents and visitors to our state. With Abrams at the helm of Tri-Rail and the Board of County Commissioners the board of directors for Palm Tran, a comprehensive review of our region’s public transit will, hopefully, provide attractive alternatives to the predominant use of private passenger vehicles to move about.

With the departure of Abrams, I am pleased to have been elected to assume his seat as the District 4 representative on the Board of County Commissioners. I am hopeful my experience as a member of the Boca Raton City Council will help me as I transition into this new role.

Florida is likely poised to enjoy a surge in businesses relocating from the northeast as they respond to recent federal tax code revisions. That being said, unless we ensure an adequate supply of workforce housing in our community, it will be difficult for companies to justify relocation fearing the inability to find homes for their employees.

Attracting new businesses and employers to Palm Beach County is essential to our region’s continued economic growth. On the commission, I plan to focus on keeping our region competitive to bring and maintain high-paying jobs. As part of that effort, I have joined a group being facilitated by the Florida Chamber of Commerce entitled Florida 2030, a blueprint to secure Florida’s future (more on that in a future column).

I have also committed myself to addressing the mental health needs of or residents. Our community has been plagued by the opioid epidemic, a growing number of suicides, gun violence and homelessness. The root cause of each of these (and other) issues is inadequate mental health resources. Prevention is much less expensive than dealing with the results of neglect.

Palm Beach County has the opportunity to become a global leader on the issue of climate change. That starts with acknowledging the threat of sea-level rise. Even our inland communities are low-lying. The risks to property and life itself are enormous.

Over the next few years I intend to direct county dollars toward green investments, push to add solar panels to county-owned properties, and continue my support of public transportation.

Transition is healthy and as part of that transition I commit to being an able representative for our community, the county and our region. I am at your service and hope you will reach out to me if you are faced with a county issue.

Feel free to contact my team at the county.

Lucia Bonavita, previously and aid to Commissioner Abrams, has agreed to continue on as my senior aid. Kate “Freddie” Scott has retired.

Two new members of my staff are Alexandria Ayala and Jonathan Carter. Alex will assume much of what Freddie had handled (including the staffing of my South County office at the County Annex at 345 S Congress Ave and attending association and resident meetings). Lucia will remain at the Government Center office located at 301 N Olive Avenue Ste 1201).

To reach us by phone, please call 561.355.2204 (WPB) or 561.276.1220 (Delray Beach).

You can also reach us via email:

Robert S Weinroth – RWeinroth@PBCGov.org

Lucia Bonavita – LBonavita@PBCGov.org

Alexandria Ayala – Aayala1@PBCGov.org

Jonathan Carter – JCarter3@PBCGov.org

Again, it my honor to have been elected to be your new District 4 commissioner. If we can assist you in dealing with a county issue, please do not hesitate to reach out to any one of us.

 

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 26 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman and former member of the City Council where he served for four years. Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. Weinroth, who is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts and New Jersey, served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services INC (FREEDOMED®), an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth was elected president of two homeowners associations (Boca Falls HOA and Briarcliff at Woodfield Country Club HOA) and has served as a Board member of the Bay Winds HOA. He was also appointed to serve on the Safety & Security Committee at Woodfield Country Club HOA, its finance committee and the Club by-laws, long-range planning and finance committees. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15 th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. Weinroth has also served on the boards of two synagogues, most recently B’nai Torah Congregation where he served as Financial Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee. He was elected to the School Advisory Councils for Waters Edge Elementary and Olympic Heights High School and the Donna Klein Jewish Academy board. In 2014 Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council where he served as CRA Vice- chair and Deputy Mayor during his tenure. He was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach transportation Planning Authority, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities.

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