A Miami-Dade farm owner and member of the South Florida Water Management District is expressing concern over last week’s request by Gov. Ron DeSantis for the resignation of the district’s entire board.

Sam Accursio’s term on the board is set to expire in March. He says he doesn’t plan to resign,  but he would like to discuss the matter with the governor or a representative of the governor’s staff.

“When he calls me or his staff calls me, I may approach it differently, but a blanket letter,” Accursio, whose term expires in March, said Wednesday morning. “I’m not taking it to heart and I’m not going to resign at this point.

“If he makes a phone call and we discuss his plans and if I feel it’s the best thing for the state, then I move aside.”

Two board members, Dan O’Keefe and Carlos Diaz, have responded to DeSantis’ request and submitted resignation letters. A third member, Melanie Peterson, resigned at the beginning of the year leaving three of the nine positions on the board vacant.

On Tuesday, Jaime Weisinger and Brandon Tucker, told The Capitolist they don’t intend on resigning from the board.

Accursio is concerned over the possibility of turning control of the SFWMD over to a new board that doesn’t have the experience or the knowledge of the issues and projects the board is involved dealing with water quality — a major issue facing not just South Florida, but the entire state.

“It’s a mess,” Accursio said. “I do not want to resign at this time because I’m so concerned that all the wheels we have in motion, these wheels have been turning for 20 to 30 years in cases for some people I’m working with, I just don’t want to see it come to a screeching halt.”

He’s concerned about a smooth transition to a new board that doesn’t cause any disruptions in major decisions involving South Florida water issues, such as the construction of a reservoir designed to protect the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee by catching agricultural runoff.  

In November, despite the wishes of DeSantis and Congressman Brian Mast, the board agreed to extend a lease with sugar farmers for land that is to be used for the reservoir in a move that reportedly upset the new governor..

Accursio defended the board’s decision saying the lease is for two years and at anytime after those two years the sugar growers can be given four months notice to vacate the land. Accursio says it’s expected to take the federal government 2 to 3 years to design the reservoir.

“It was a win-win for the state of Florida,” Accursio said. “I feel $2 million in land leases that goes to the state, it was a benefit to move this and we followed the law.”

Providing there are no other resignations from the board, DeSantis will still get to appoint a majority of the new board in the coming months. In addition to Accursio, the terms of two other board members are set to expire in March, opening a total of six positions on the nine member board.

“Have we done anything wrong?, Accursio asked. “Absolutely not. I trust our members. I also trust our new governor. I think he’s out for the best thing he knows for Florida.”

 

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