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Gov. Ron DeSantis announces three new appointees to the South Florida Water Management District at North Collier Regional Park Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Naples Daily News

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Gov. Ron DeSantis continued a string of new appointments to the South Florida Water Management District board Thursday, weeks after he had asked the entire board to step down.

After announcing the first two new members to the nine-member board last month, DeSantis announced four more appointees at stops in North Naples and Stuart:

  • Charlette Roman, a city councilwoman on Marco Island;
  • Carlos "Charlie" Martinez, a semi-retired homebuilder in Miami-Dade County;
  • Cheryl Meads, a Village Council member on Islamorada in the Florida Keys;
  • Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a former mayor of Sewall's Point near Stuart in Martin County.

"We wanted a fresh start," DeSantis said at North Collier Regional Park. "We wanted to make sure that everyone shares not only my vision but really the vision of people throughout, up and down this coast in Florida (and) up and down the east coast of Florida, to make sure that we have a good healthy system for water."

DeSantis said during his North Naples stop that the three appointees he named there "all care about the water problems we've had," are committed to fixing them and have the ability to "work constructively" with other board members and stakeholders, such as the Army Corps of Engineers.

Roman, who served 26 years in the Army, retiring as a full colonel, said healthy waterways are key to continued "economic prosperity and quality of life."

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"We're going to protect the environment, we're going to restore the quality of our water, which is what the citizens demand because they know that their economy and their quality of life depends on it," she said after the announcement.

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Meads, who was a contractor to the Environmental Protection Agency out of college and spent much of her work life in the pharmaceutical industry, called water the "silver thread" that connects economic, social, environmental, educational, health and business goals.

"We are at a turning point that requires a combination of unadulterated leadership and science," she said.

Meads moved to the Keys in 2010 and now runs a real estate holding company called Trumpet Calls LLC.

Martinez, a lifelong South Floridian who will fill one of two Miami-Dade seats on the board, said red tide spells that the state experienced last year "can never ever happen again."

He also vowed to do "everything in my power" to restore the Everglades to its original beauty, calling Everglades National Park "our crown jewel."

"That's our Mount Rushmore, that's our Central Park, that's our Grand Canyon," Martinez said. "We have to always remember that."

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DeSantis later Thursday in Stuart announced the appointment of Thurlow-Lippisch, a longtime advocate for the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

Thurlow-Lippisch was a Sewall's Point commissioner from 2008 to 2016 and the town's mayor from 2011 to 2012. She writes a blog about South Florida water issues and she and her husband are known for taking photos to document damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

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"As our lakes, rivers and oceans — and the wildlife and ecosystems they support — suffocate from algae and toxic plumes, it is clear the status quo is no longer working or acceptable," Thurlow-Lippisch wrote in an Oct. 26, 2017, column for TCPalm. "For too long, our state has tackled environmental problems on a case-by-case basis."

Thursday’s announcements come on the heels of DeSantis appointing Sanibel City Councilman Chauncey Goss and Broward County developer Ron Bergeron to the SFWMD board last month. Those moves came alongside DeSantis' continued roll-out of his environmental priorities, including calling for $625 million for water resources projects.

DeSantis indicated that by the end of next week the rest of the board would be filled.

Thursday's latest announcements in North Naples were welcomed by Southwest Florida environmental advocates who were especially happy to see Roman, a longtime Marco Island resident, appointed to the board.

Her experience in the Army will allow her to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, an important partner to the water management district, said Brad Cornell, policy director for Audubon of the Western Everglades.

"Charlette is a conservationist at heart, and she also knows the Army," he said. "And that's going to be an important skill, communicating with the Army Corps of Engineers, that she brings to the governing board."

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Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, said his organization is "absolutely thrilled" with DeSantis' three picks in North Naples.

"These are three champions for a balanced approach to conservation, to the needs of people and to the needs of the ecosystem," he said.

Moher said the Conservancy has worked with Roman, a Marco Island city councilor since 2016, "very, very closely."

"We are huge endorsers and supporters of hers," he said.

Capt. Daniel Andrews, executive director of Captains For Clean Water, echoed Moher's praise, calling Roman a "true servant" who "has a good understanding of our problems here."

"We're really happy to see these names come forward," he said.

DeSantis' appointments were also lauded by the Everglades Foundation.

"The governor has put together a diverse cross-section of local governments, business leaders and friends of the environment who will act as concerned and committed stewards of our water and natural resources," Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said in a statement. "We look forward to working with this new board to protect and restore America’s Everglades."

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Gov. Ron DeSantis announced what he called a historic $625 million for water resources projects, including Everglades restoration, Jan. 29, 2018. Patrick Riley, patrick.riley@naplesnews.com; 239-263-4825

Treasure Coast Newspapers and TCPalm.com reporter Tyler Treadway contributed to this report.

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