PB Post ~ Six seek four seats on Lake Park commission

PalmBeachPostLogoSix seek four seats on Lake Park commission

By Jodie Wagner

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Four political newcomers, an incumbent commissioner and a former elected official are vying to fill four open seats on the town commission.

Steve Hockman, a self-employed electrical designer who is seeking a second term on the commission, will be joined on the ballot for the March 12 election by former Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District supervisor Michael O’Rourke, massage therapist Diane Bernhard, small business owner Erin Flaherty, certified land planner Kimberly Glas-Castro and retired businesswoman Kathleen Rapoza.

Commissioners Jeanine Longtin, Kendall Rumsey and Tim Stevens chose not to seek reelection after their terms expire next month. Mayor James DuBois has one year remaining in his term.

Commissioners serve three-year terms, and are paid $9,384 annually.

Hockman, who first was elected to the commission in 2010, is pushing for a more open government and lower taxes for residents and business owners.

“One of my big issues is transparency in government,” said Hockman, 51, whose allegations of ethical misconduct against former town manager Maria Davis last January led to her resignation. “That’s the key thing. Another is trying to see that the town works better with businesses, as well as with citizens, especially in today’s economy. We want businesses to come to Lake Park.”

Drawing new businesses to the town is a key issue for the other five candidates in the election.

Flaherty, 33, who runs a company that builds websites and manages social media for businesses, wants to increase the town’s online presence in an effort to attract business owners and create better exposure for the town.

“I’d like to personally assist with helping to create, monitor and maintain a Facebook page as well as the town’s website,” he said. “Nothing hurts me more than to go out and tell someone that I’m from the beautiful town of Lake Park, and they say, ‘Where’s Lake Park?’ I feel we can reach more people by using the internet a little bit better.”

Glas-Castro, 48, and Rapoza, 70, both hope to improve communication between elected officials and the town’s 8,000 residents.

“It just seems that our only communication in the town is what’s posted on the changeable board outside of town hall or in post-meeting updates,” Glas-Castro said. “My priority is better communication and seeking more input from residents and businesses as to what the priorities should be.”

“It’s time that local government listens to the citizens,” added Rapoza, who worked in the service industry for 38 years. “The citizens of Lake Park truly are our boss. By being a commissioner, you don’t go in as an individual. You go in becoming a team player.”

O’Rourke, 58, a trial attorney, hopes to expand youth recreation opportunities and implement programs that will help potential homeowners and businesses.

“My goal is to put in place programs that will assist people who are interested in having properties come to Lake Park so that we can increase property values of all residents,” he said. “I believe in the town. I think it has so much potential.”

Preserving the town’s waterfront and its 112-slip marina is a pivotal issue for Bernhard, 66, who lived on board a boat for 12 years.

“I think the marina is one of the most precious showcases that we have, and I want to be sure we don’t squander anything there,” she said. “I’ll continue to work for the improvement and financial success of our marina.”

Lake Park Town Commission

Term: Until March 2016 Salary: $9,384 annually

These candidates are running for four at-large seats on the town commission. The top four vote-getters will be elected.

Diane Bernhard

Personal: 66, Single.

Education: Attended Queensborough (N.Y.) Community College

Professional: Certified health coach and massage therapist.

Political: First run for elected office. Serves on the town’s Marina Task Force.

Issues: Wants to encourage active community participation in town initiatives and government. Supports reasonable use of the town’s waterfront. Will work for the improvement and financial success of the marina.

Erin Flaherty

Personal: 33. Engaged, three children.

Education: High school graduate.

Professional: Self-employed small business owner. Runs a company that builds websites and manages social media for businesses. He also is the director of the town’s Community Development Corp.

Political: First run for elected office. Serves on the town’s Marina Task Force.

Issues: Hopes to draw new businesses, promote existing businesses and create greater exposure for the town by building a strong online presence. Would create and maintain a town Facebook page, and upgrade the town’s website.

Kimberly Glas-Castro

Personal: 48. Married, two children.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, political science, Illinois State University; master’s in public administration, Florida Atlantic University.

Professional: Certified land planner.

Political: First run for elected office.

Issues: Wants to improve communication between town hall and residents by using the town’s website and other communication opportunities more effectively. Would seek input regularly from residents and businesses.

Steve Hockman (i)

Personal: 51. Married, two children.

Education: Attended Broward Community College.

Professional: Self-employed electrical designer.

Political: Elected to the town commission in 2010.

Issues: Will work for more transparency in government and an end to selective code enforcement. Wants to establish better relationships and more open communication between the town, its citizens and businesses.

Michael O’Rourke

Personal: 58, Married, three children.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, human resources, Palm Beach Atlantic University; law degree, St. Thomas University School of Law.

Profession: Trial attorney.

Political: Northern Palm Beach County Improvement District Supervisor, 2010. Unsuccessfully ran for Palm Beach County School Board in 2002. Unsuccessfully ran for Palm Beach Gardens City Council in 2007.

Issues: Supports legislation that would regulate sober houses. Wants to ease restrictions in order to draw businesses to the town. Would make it easier for potential homeowners to buy homes and property. Wants to increase recreational opportunities for kids.

Kathleen Rapoza

Personal: 70. Married, three children.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, art, Endicott College; Studied commercial art at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Professional: Worked in the service industry for 38 years as the owner of disaster recovery and cleaning businesses.

Political: First run for elected office.

Issues: Wants to attract businesses and industry to the town in effort to increase the tax base. Will work to keep seniors and citizens safe. Hopes to improve communication and partnership between the town and its residents.

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