Published On: Mon, Nov 16th, 2020

Two ‘Marias’ join Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday

By Dale King

Two “Marias” will take the oath of office Tuesday as new members of the Palm Beach County Commission.

One of them, Maria Lorts Sachs, is the new commissioner from District 5, which includes West Boca, West Delray and West Boynton Beach.

Also taking on a new commission post is another Maria and another Democrat – Maria Marino, a former councilwoman from Palm Beach Gardens.  She replaces Republican Hal Valeche as commissioner from District 1, who has served eight years and was term-limited from seeking re-election.

“I am ready to make new memories,” said Sachs, who has a lengthy record of public service.

A lawyer married to another lawyer, Peter Sachs, the newly elected commissioner was a member of the Florida Senate from 2010 to 2016, representing parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Previously, she served two terms in the Florida House of Representatives where she served a section of southern Palm Beach County from 2006 until her election to the Senate. 

After her seat was redistricted in 2016, she opted not to seek reelection and was hired as the executive director of Innovation Florida, a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Sachs, who succeeds term-limited Mary Lou Berger as the commissioner from a district that has no municipality, she said she is looking forward to working with District 4 Commissioner Robert Weinroth of Boca Raton, who is scheduled to be named mayor of the county on Tuesday, and Melissa McKinlay from District 6.

Delivering a “virtual” address to members of the Government Affairs/Economic Development Committee from the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce last week, she praised that organization for its Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), which gives students the opportunity to work with local business people, creating their own companies and working to take them out into the world.

“We need to partner with the schools on mentoring programs,” the new commissioner said. YEA brings students and members of the business community together as mentors and mentees.

The program offers a good path “for high school students who may not be ready for college.  We need mentors to create a group of labor-ready workers.”

“I like public-private partnerships,” said Sachs. “I like to see private industry get involved with government.” She noted that she brought the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology to the Florida Atlantic University School of Medicine. “I want this to be the tech capital of the world. We have the best medical centers. We want to make sure they are well funded.”

Sachs also applauded the county’s response to COVID-19. “All of them have done an amazing job. We have to make sure we offer good medical treatment.”

“Everybody wants to be safe. As we look to winter, we are looking for a surge in tourism. We are open for business – and we will abide by the directions of the Centers for Disease Control.”

A resident of the Agricultural Reserve in the west section of the county, Sachs said she is concerned about the fact that roads are getting closer to the Everglades. “So many people don’t want to live in tight urban areas anymore,” she said. 

She asked those listening to her Chamber address to come forward and offer her their ideas. “I want your expertise” as the area continues to develop.

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