Four candidates are vying to be the new Supervisors of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Four and Two. WFSU has put together a primer on these less-talked-about races, one of which is an open seat.
In some ways, being a district supervisor is the purest form of public service. There is no salary for the position – whoever is elected will work on a volunteer basis. And, they won’t have authority to implement policy or tax increases. A Soil and Water Conservation elected leader’s principle role is to inform.
“We have helped area farmers connect with federal and state programs that help them produce food using more sustainable practices,” said District 4 incumbent Brian Lee, speaking at WFSU's Bandwagon candidate forum.
Lee is a co-founder of nonprofit Re-Think Energy Florida, which advocates for renewable energy. Lee touts his office’s ability to similarly advocate for soil and water policies to state and local agencies. He is running for re-election against challenger Bill Helmich, who was not present at Bandwagon and has run a generally low-key campaign. Helmich is running on doing away with the Soil and Water Conservation Commission entirely.
In District Two, incumbent Holly Parker isn’t seeking re-election. Three candidates are looking to take her place. Cara Fleischer was driven to run by personal reasons.
“Ever since my baby daughter got asthma, I’ve been a mom on a mission to raise awareness about air quality, water quality, and protecting natural habitat,” Fleischer said.
John Hedrick is an attorney who has served as an assistant public defender for nearly two decades.
“This, for me, is a logical extension of what I’ve been doing for over 40 years of my life, as a volunteer,” Hedrick said during his Bandwagon appearance. “I consider myself a thoughtful advocate in these areas of conservation and environmental issues.”
Will Henry, a third candidate, has made virtually no public appearances but in Facebook posts says he wants to better connect citizens with resources related to soil and water quality.
Soil and Water conservation districts meet every three weeks, and meetings are open to the public.
Editor's note: This story previously incorrectly identified Tabitha Frazier as District 2 incumbent. Frazier currently represents District 3 on the board.