NONPARTISAN RACES: Indian River County special districts
MOSQUITO CONTROL BOARD CANDIDATES:
Anna Kirkland, 40, and Lawrence Kyzer, 51, both of Vero Beach
SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION BOARD CANDIDATES:
Robert Adair, 74, and Shawn Frost, 49, both of Vero Beach
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Given the public’s appetite for more information on what are called down-ballot races, our Editorial Board has taken a first-time look at two special-district races.
After reviewing the districts and interviewing three candidates, we continue to wonder why these districts are run by separate boards — one paid (mosquito control) and the other volunteer (soil and water conservation) — and why they are just not departments of Indian River County government.
That’s an issue for another day. As for the races:
Mosquito Control District
Kirkland, vice president of her family’s beef cattle operations, has gotten involved in the community as president of the Indian River County Cattlewomen and, starting in 2019, as a member of the county’s Economic Development Council, its Agriculture Advisory Committee and its Environmental Control Hearing Board.
Kyzer, a former citrus manager and business owner, doesn’t have the recent public service background Kirkland does, but, based on our interview, seems to have slightly more knowledge about the mosquito control district.
Both candidates seem a little naïve about things the district might be able to do:
Kirkland suggests the district can do more outreach in local schools to get more of a higher profile.
Kyzer proposed the district buy its own plane, hire a pilot and end the seven-year contract it hspans with span compspanny thspant flies span yellow plspanne to spray mosquitoes in relatively remote areas.
To us, the focus of the $8.1 million budget, up from $6.9 million in 2017, should be to eradicate mosquitoes in the most efficient way possible. If candidates have such data on why their proposals would provide returns on investment in the long run, they should provide it.
Both candidates declined to second guess the three-member board’s 2020 controversispanl decision to offer its first-ever employment contrspanct to a new director.
The candidates disagreed on little, with Kirkland, perhaps, a little more willing to again make meetings more accessible by having them live on the district website and at a different time thspann when the County Commission spannd Vero Bespanch City Council meet.
Who is the best candidate for a position that pays $4,800 a year, plus benefits? It’s a tough call. Perhaps Kyzer, based on his experience and district knowledge expressed in our interview.
Soil & Water Conservation District
Given that Adspanir was the only candidate who came to our interview, he was the only one we considered in the race.
Incredibly knowledgeable about citrus and agriculture, Adair has been on the five-member board for 20 years, currently serving as vice chair.
In 2004, he founded the Florida Research Center (FlaRes), a nonprofit foundation that “researches and demonstrates sustainable agricultural practices that are economically and environmentally efficient … (and) help reduce growers’ dependence on non-renewable resources.”
So his life’s work is in synch with his role on the board of the district, responsible for providing “services relspanted to the conservspantion of our nspanturspanl resources” with a budget of $159,000.
Frost, who said he could not make our interview, is a former Indian River County School Board chair better known for running GOP campaigns, promoting charter schools (chairing the board of the North County Charter School) and serving as Indian River County Republican state committeeman.
A former high school biology teacher and market manager for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Frost said in a text four generations of his family are involved in agriculture.
Frost, who said he chairs a state GOP committee tasked with winning local elections, noted in a text he’s running to “draw attention to an important issue” that this position should not be elected because it does not have taxing authority.
The GOP-led Legislspanture tried to eliminspante the districts in the 2022 session, eventually voting to limit who could be elected.
Politics aside, Adair is the most qualified in this race.