Candidate Guest Opinion: James Maughan

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My name is Jason Maughan and I am running for the Florida Senate, District 27 on the issue of water quality.

Everyone in Fort Myers Beach is painfully aware of the problem. Blue green-algae blooms and brown water have marred our waters and resulted in beach closings. Some hotels, restaurants and recreational facilities along Estero Boulevard have reported a 50 percent drop in revenues over this time last year. Worse, with the state of emergency and health advisories in the national and global news, we’re all worried about the hit tourism is likely to take next season.

Many folks think that if the federal government would only fix the Herbert Hoover Dike, all the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee would stop. But even after the dike is repaired, there is only so much water the lake can hold. When the water level rises above 15½ feet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has no choice but to discharge the excess into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers – no matter how much damage that causes to water quality, our economy and our quality of life.

There is a solution. Florida must purchase land currently owned by U.S. Sugar south of the lake so that we can create a reservoir to receive and filter this excess water before it’s sent into the Everglades (where it went before the dike was built in the 1930s). Florida actually possesses an option to buy the needed land from U.S. Sugar. Two years ago, 75 percent of Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment (Amendment 1) that today provides enough money to pay for the land. But U.S. Sugar doesn’t want to part with any of its acreage, and they’ve contributed heavily to some of our establishment politicians to induce them to delay acting on this problem long enough for the option to expire on October 19, 2020. My opponent, Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, is in that group.

In my opinion, buying the land and sending the water south is the single most important issue facing District 27 voters today. That’s why I’m running and that’s what I intend to accomplish if you send me to Tallahassee. I take no money from Big Sugar. My loyalties are to you – my friends, neighbors and fellow Southwest Floridians. Please vote for me in the August 30 primary. The time for action is now or never.

 

Jason Maughan
Candidate for Florida Senate District 27