This post is a plea for everyone reading to pay more attention to Soil and Water Conservation Board candidates. Few people even know that we elect members to deal with water issues, which inevitably means that the knowledge about candidates for this board is frequently inexcusably low. Combined with the fact that many of these are non-partisan (as, in theory, water policy should be, in light of the fact that the Florida Constitution requires that the state protect water as a public resource), this race is frequently the one most skipped over. If you look at down ballot performance around the state, many people vote and simply skip this one entirely. Considering the importance of water to this state, this is a travesty.
These are the names on the ballot that are most skipped or people merely pick a name out of a list. Candidate forums frequently do not include this position and many times, individuals are elected without opposition. I looked at so many running for the seat, especially in south Florida, and many of them are developers and businessmen with absolutely no idea how to properly prepare for the water issues surrounding this state. I was disheartened, so I decided to just do a call to action.
Water is the most important resource to this state and yet, water boards are constantly being filled by people with no knowledge of groundwater flow or the physics of fluvial geomorphology or the hydro-chemical balances needed to keep springs running clean. This is one of those jobs that should require a good deal of science background, yet does not. Not only are budgets constantly underfunded, but there is a huge power struggle in the way that water is managed throughout the state. No issue will be more important to Florida’s future than water.
Please, educate yourself on these important elected officials. Check out the Soil and Water Conservation Council under the Department of Agriculture. Get familiar with these issues because these issues will be deciding elections in the very near future. Massive amounts of policy is decided on these localized boards, yet they do not get the attention they deserve. Polk County has an especially easy and comprehensive website.
It is important to make sure people who understand what is at stake serve on these boards. I have been impressed with Brian Lee, who is running in Leon District 4, and Shannon Blankinship, who is running in Duval District 3. Please check them out and I encourage you to find some and put them in the comments. Water matters and politicians deciding water policy are important.