2020 Voter Guide Ranking

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Merritt Matheson

City Commissioner

2020 Clean Water Questionnaire Responses

To read each question, answer and candidate comments click below.

  • Question 1 : Yes
    1) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is revising the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). The purpose is to reevaluate and define operations for the entire Lake Okeechobee system, not just the Lake. Do you agree LOSOM should be rewritten to incorporate human health, ecology and the environment as an operational priority with existing operational priorities of flood control, navigation, water supply, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and recreation?
    Candidate Comment:

    It is essential that new management operational process is taking place. LORS 08 —-> LOSOM. LORS 08 only regarded health and human safety in terms of flood control. All Americans must have their government agencies looking health and human safety as a top priority, Especially in regards to HAB’s. During my first term as a Stuart Commissioner I went as far as potential litigation against the ACOE over the health and safety of my residents. I pushed for the creation of a full-time river advocate position in my city and was voted by my fellow commissioners to speak on behalf of Stuart at LOSOM and SFWMD meetings. I have attended numerous LOSOM PDT meetings and had many conversations with ACOE staff to ensure health and human safety are part of LOSOM.

  • Question 2 : Yes
    2) State legislation, FDEP data and the Blue-Green Algae Taskforce all report agriculture as the dominant source of phosphorus and nitrogen within most impaired watersheds of Florida. Do you agree industries and property owners should be held to clearly enforceable pollution standards and penalties; including mandatory adoption and verification of best management practices, and to implement inspection programs targeting septic, agriculture and industrial wastewater?
    Candidate Comment:

    Absolutely, all industries and properties must adopt BMP’s 3rd party inspections, and repercussions for violations should follow. As a Stuart commissioner I advocated for a mandate to require septic-to-sewer conversions on projects in exchange for use changes. I want to create a future where my actions are the norm not the exception. Additionally, with my fellow commissioners, we banned the use of glyphosate to the furthest extent allowed by municipalities in Florida. Glyphosate is not used on City property including parks, leased land, and maintained easements and right of ways. Our public works departments follows BMP’s. Stuart will have 100% sewer connection capability by end of 2020.

  • Question 3 : Yes
    3) Water is Florida’s greatest natural resource and we should not let it go to waste. Geological water storage methods like Aquifer Storage & Recovery (ASR) and Deep Injection Wells (DIW) are risky in Florida’s fragile and porous bedrock. Independent experts, including the National Academy of Sciences, have called for increasing above ground water storage. Will you prioritize projects for Everglades restoration with above ground storage, filtration marshes and sending water south through the Everglades and down to Florida Bay, the headwaters of the Florida Keys, as nature intended?
    Candidate Comment:

    As a Commissioner I successfully directed Stuart to take a stance opposing ASR’s and DIW’s in a resolution sent to the SFWMD governing board. We must do everything possible to recreate the natural flow of water South to Florida Bay and the Everglades.

  • Question 4 : Yes
    4) The Florida sugar industry steered over $60 million - not including dark money - to candidates in state and local elections between 1994 and 2016, according to the Miami Herald, which reported “on issue after issue, regulators, legislators, and governors have erred on the side of softening the impact of adverse rules and regulations on cane growers...” which increased pollution, shifted cleanup costs to taxpayers, and influenced Lake Okeechobee water management, for the benefit of private irrigation and flood control, to the detriment of the Everglades, Florida Bay and coastal estuaries and communities. Do you agree that your campaign will be sugar-free, accepting no contributions from any source with ties to the sugarcane industry?
    Candidate Comment:

    I have stated I will be “sugar free” since I considered running for office prior to serving my first term. I am also not accepting campaign donations from lawyers and land planners that professionally come before the City of Stuart with development projects. I work for Stuart residents and enjoy voting with a clear conscience.

  • Question 5 : Yes
    5) The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) underestimates the amount of storage capacity for polluted water released from Lake Okeechobee. Will you support acquisition of additional private lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) south of the Lake to augment the EAA Reservoir project for storage, treatment and conveyance of water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay?
    Candidate Comment:

    CERP is a step in the right direction but it is by no means the final resolution to fix South Florida’s water problems. Land acquisition in the EAA should be ongoing. Florida Forever Fund allocations must be scrutinized continually. As a municipal commissioner I will continue to push all government agencies for the implementation of CERP projects as well as the acquisition and restoration of new land in the EAA. Recently in a joint effort the City of Stuart and Martin County sent letters to the Florida delegation of Congress opposing the CERP “water savings clause” being tied to LOSOM. I raised this issue at the City level and urged Martin County staff to move it forward at the County level.