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Indian River Lagoon looms as priority in Brackett, Greb race for State House 34 seat

Local StoriesIndian River Lagoon looms as priority in Brackett, Greb race for State House 34 seat

With the Indian River Lagoon as a primary economic and recreational feature along Indian River and Brevard counties, both candidates for Florida House District 34 said they rate it as among their priorities if elected. 

Indian River and southern Brevard will send a new representative to Tallahassee on Nov. 8, with Republican Robert “Robbie” Brackett, currently mayor of Vero Beach, and Democrat Karen Greb, a Sebastian resident and a board member on the Indian River Neighborhood Association, as the candidates. 

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The winner replaces incumbent Erin Grall, who moves to the state Senate without opposition. 

House 34’s boundaries include all of Indian River County and the south end of unincorporated Brevard County, including Barefoot Bay, Little Hollywood and others in the Micco area. The district was redrawn this year to remove St. Lucie County. 

Karen Greb

Robbie Brackett

Brackett said he wants the state to find the best practices that it and municipalities can use for combating stormwater runoff and pollution into the Indian River Lagoon.

“We’ve been very active with stormwater in Vero Beach,” Brackett said. “I’m very proud of our record. The problem with the river won’t be fixed overnight and it took a long time to get it to the point that it’s at now.” 

He supports state mandates on municipalities for stormwater runoff reduction. Vero Beach can’t have a positive impact on the lagoon, he said, for example, if other cities aren’t doing their part. 

“When the state puts out a mandate for the cities, we need to find ways to reward those who meet their goals and penalize those who don’t,” Brackett said. 

Along with fighting for clean waterways and beaches, Bracket has campaigned on a message of reducing government spending to lower taxes, he said on his cspanmpspanign webpspange. He’s vowed to make the government “accountable for the trillions of dollars they spend on programs that neither benefit the population nor promote economic growth.”

Greb sees her role as preventing corporations who seek favor with politicians in Tallahassee from avoiding environmental accountability. 

“I definitely have an environmental orientation to just about everything,” said Greb, who has lived in Sebastian for two years after spending five years in Martin County.

“For the folks here, that really is a nonpartisan issue. And when people find out that every single one of our elected representatives in the five counties along the Indian River voted on behalf of polluting special interests, I hope that message will wake a few people up.”

She’s supported “low impact development” and at her cspanmpspanign’s Fspancebook pspange, praised the Sebastian City Council for delaying a vote on the proposed Graves Brothers 1,984-acre annexation project.

Throwing in their hats

Brackett is a managing partner in the family-owned Edge Information Management in Melbourne, which conducts employee background checks. He also helps in the family’s property-management business, the Brackett Family Limited Partnership.

He entered politics in 2018, winning a seat on the Vero Beach City Council, then became mayor in 2020. 

“I had been on the board for Lipscomb University, and my wife and I have made it our goal to find ways to serve,” Brackett said. “I was looking for another opportunity and someone told me the City Council is kind of like a board.” 

Greb has never held public office, but has been involved in Florida politics since she moved here seven years ago. She moved to Stuart from California, retiring after a career in financial services. 

After relocating, she became a trained citizen lobbyist and was engaged in persuading voters to pass Florida’s 2018 amendment to end greyhound racing.

The cost of politics

Campaign finance records show between December 2021 and Sept. 9, Bracket has loaned his race $5,000 and had collected $172,300 from 284 donors. After spending $164,664 on his campaign, he had $7,636 cash on hand as of Sept. 16.

His fundraising dropped off after the August primary, election records show.

Since Aug. 24, Bracket raised $11,050 from seven contributors, which included $10,000 from the Florida House Republican Campaign fund and $500 from the Tallahassee lobbyist group Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA) Political Action Committee (PAC). He’s spent $200 since Aug. 24, to cover advertising expenses.

Greb had no competition in the Democrat primary, but did no substantial fundraising in anticipation of the general election.

State election records show Greb in June loaned her campaign $5,000 and collected $250 from three people who listed themselves as retired, with two from Vero Beach and one a resident of Newark, Delaware.

Greb has spent $2,281 since she began her campaign in June, leaving her with $2,969, according to campaign finance records. She’s spent $16 since July 30, to cover her campaign’s monthly bank account fee.

She said her goal is to run an environmentally conscious campaign free of special interest support. She’s avoiding street signs, mailers and other material means of campaigning in lieu of public appearances and digital outreach, such as her campaign’s Facebook page. 

“I’m not accepting any donations from (political action committees}, or corporations, or large donations for that matter,” Greb said. “We have got to get the special interest money out of politics.”

Florida House District 34 

Election: Nov. 8 

Voters: All registered voters who live in Florida House District 34, comprising Indian River County and the south end of unincorporated Brevard County, including Barefoot Bay, Little Hollywood and others in the Micco area. 

Term: Two years, beginning immediately after the election

Salary: $29,697

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