Why is this seat on the SFWMD Governing Board still vacant?

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch speaks at the Bluefield Grove ribbon cutting in St. Lucie County in this August 2021 photo.

Earlier this year we told you how Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, perhaps the staunchest clean-water advocate on the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, lost her seat after Gov. Ron DeSantis renominated her — but the Florida Senate declined to hold a vote to confirm her.

Why? Maybe she was a little TOO staunch in her clean-water advocacy.

But here we are some nine months later, and her seat on the Governing Board still hasn’t been filled. As writer Ed Killer noted in a recent TCPalm/Stuart News column, DeSantis filled a Sheriff’s vacancy in St. Lucie County with lightning speed — but he can’t be bothered to select a new candidate for the SFWMD board:

Republicans in Martin and St. Lucie counties who give a hoot about clean water should be angry. The rest of the governor’s constituents should be upset, too.

Lake Okeechobee’s complex management will change for the first time in 15 years as the Army Corps of Engineers rolls out the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual.

The lake is high going into an El Nino year, which typically means more rain is on tap. One tropical system during the rainy season can send discharges from the lake into communities like Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Fort Myers and Naples.

It’s important to have a voice on the board to represent the areas that stand to lose the most from polluted water if this happens.

Added Killer, who could be a comedian if his journalism career ever goes south:

Leaving the position open should offend Republican leadership of the Treasure Coast, too, but we don’t hear any complaints. Why haven’t we heard from lawmakers, such as GOP legislators Toby Overdorf, Gayle Harrell, Dana Trabulsy and John Snyder, who say they care so deeply about water issues locally?

Hm, such a mystery.

Bottom line, Killer is absolutely correct: It’s strange, at best, that DeSantis would leave this key position vacant. Is this because DeSantis doesn’t want his selection to reflect poorly on his Presidential campaign? Is it because he could appoint someone significantly less friendly to the clean-water cause that Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch was? Surely Big Sugar and other special interests are whispering in the Governor’s ear, urging him to do just that. But if he were to follow their advice, clean-water advocates would howl (and few would be louder than VoteWater).

So how much longer are we going to have to wait for this key position to be filled — or fought over?

There’s no time like the present, Governor.