DISCLAIMER: The League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County asked the candidates to share information about themselves and their platform. These were their responses. These statements reflect the candidates’ views and not the views of the League of Women Voters. The league does not endorse candidates. We provide the public resources to make informed decisions.
Town of Loxahatchee Groves Council Candidates
Phillis Maniglia - Incumbent
Maniglia is seeking a second three-year term running on her record as a councilwoman. As a key success, she cites removing the previous management company and hiring a manager that could transition the town with minimal cost.
She was also involved with making the LGWCD dependent on the town and eliminating the old LGWCD board.
Maniglia said she was also instrumental in stopping selective code enforcement and making OGEM road repair a priority for the 2021 budget.
“My concerns are decreasing revenue due to the virus crisis, town-wide through traffic from outside influences, a lack of town-wide maintenance and seeing the effects of previous town planning,” she said.
Maniglia also wants to create a new vision for the town to follow.
“We’re talking about what’s happening on Southern Blvd.,” she said. “They were like, ‘It’s commercial, it’s going to make us money.’ Now, we’re sorry. We need to have more control over that or it’s going to look like the Military Trail.”
Maniglia plans to continue her activism over her next term on the council.
“I would like to continue to fight to clean up the town, restructure the public works department, encourage connectivity, protect neighborhoods from noise and traffic, and work toward the desires of the residents of Loxahatchee Groves,” she said. — Buckley, R. “Four File For Two Available Seats On Lox Groves Council”, The Town-Crier (January 1, 2021)
After serving three years on the council, DeMarois lost his seat to Vice Mayor Marge Herzog last March. He is challenging Maniglia for Seat 1 on issues that also include the roads. “I will try to improve the roads for the people,” he said.
DeMarois opposes the horse trail and roundabout proposed on Okeechobee Blvd. Although those proposals would be partially funded by grant money, he feels the town putting up its share is not a good idea at the current time.
He also has questions on how town management and public works — formerly the LGWCD — is run. DeMarois said that public works is pressured by the council to get things done when it has a staff of only four or five people.
“When we had the water district, we had three people in the office — the manager, the bookkeeper and the secretary — and on average six to 10 people out on the roads,” said DeMarois, who served for many years on the LGWCD board.
When the LGWCD became dependent on the town, he said most of the staff left and replacements were not made, leaving a minimal staff.
“That’s what they have now,” DeMarois said. “We had four or five working in the field and three of them left. They put too much pressure on them.” — Buckley, R. “Four File For Two Available Seats On Lox Groves Council”, The Town-Crier (January 1, 2021)
Town of Loxahatchee Groves Council Candidates
Lisa El-Ramey - Incumbent
In late 2018, I was asked to put my name in for an appointment to a vacated council seat. When I was not selected to fill that seat, I was then asked, by one resident, to run for town council. I tentatively said yes and reached out to my friends. Most of them encouraged me, some questioned my sanity….and still do. I chose to run and I was blessed to have the support of long-standing community figures and specifically the support of one town leader we sadly lost, suddenly, last year.
I am fortunate to have served my first year as a council member and this year as your Mayor.
Over the last two years council has accomplished multiple goals in the areas of town management, improved administrative access for permitting and business tax receipts, canals, roads, trails, planning, and community relations.
As a council member, I worked to rebuild dirt roads, retire the OGEM debt, and obtain additional equipment for public works. Under this council, residents have experienced a more professional and inviting town hall and staff. We re-instituted code enforcement that was not punitive or selective. The administration of purchasing, permitting, business tax receipts, vendor contracts, and the addition of more affordable resources for the town have all improved in my two years on council.
We have increased canal maintenance with the repair and upgrade to the pump at D road and have contracted services for vegetation removal without harming or destabilizing the canal banks.
We have sought and successfully achieved outside funding options totaling over $3 million dollars with the receipt of the TPA Grants for both a round-a-bout, lettered road safety crossings and a multi-use trail on Okeechobee Blvd, as well as, a CARES Act reimbursement for $40,000. We have received a DEO grant to explore land use on Okeechobee Blvd and now a matching grant for a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council mobility and corridor study grant to fully understand the fiscal impacts of land-use changes and create future designs town-wide.
We have seen the addition of trails in our community and there are many options to continue adding trail mileage culminating with a fully connected trail system in the future.
This council has worked hard to keep developers accountable and to push for a true rural design and buffering of the commercial areas.
We were successful in the removal of the Okeechobee Blvd extension from Crestwood Blvd west to Southern Blvd from the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency 5 year plan AND its proposed connection west of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road between Southern and the proposed Okeechobee extension.
Through the decisions of this council, we have made progress with long-term planning and dealing with entrenched, ignored and neglected issues. We have not just continued to kick the can down the road
As your Mayor, I pushed for the town manager performance review, town staff action on items that received council consensus, opened council meetings back up to the public with COVID restrictions, and pushed for a scope of work and moving forward on OGEM repairs. I have continued to push for reliability and accountability from public works. I have requested repeatedly the sheriff provide more traffic enforcement throughout our town, including the dirt roads. We will now have an entrance from the North Road trail into the Royal Palm Beach Preserve, at its northwest corner. The successful closure of the non-permitted cut-through has seen a drastic reduction in traffic on the north side of town and will result in tremendous savings for the town in years to come. I am happy to report the town also has social media accounts to help residents understand town positions and procedures.
My choice to run for re-election is one driven by the need to see the original vision of our founding documents brought to fruition.
The vision includes:
- Maintenance of the natural environment & rural character
- A Trail System
- Sustained Agriculture
- Reduction of Traffic
- Preservation of our rural community
Success of elections is not one measured by the victory of one elected official but in the outcome of that election resulting in the success of governance reaching its stated goals. In the case of this town, the success of the incorporation efforts of 2006 laid the groundwork. As stated in the charter:
It is intended that this charter and the incorporation of the Loxahatchee Groves area will serve to preserve and protect the distinctive rural characteristics of the community and to acknowledge its close ties to the agriculture and equestrian industries within the boundaries of the Town of Loxahatchee Groves.
I would like your support in this upcoming election to work to develop and implement a 10-year plan to shape this unique and special community for the next 50 years. As your elected official I pledge to, and have, humbly served the citizens of the Town of Loxahatchee Groves and will do so again for 3 years.