Decision in gov’s hands as applications filed for vacant Commission seat

Will Gov. Rick Scott finally appoint someone to the vacant County Commission seat in St. Lucie County? If so, time’s running out – the seat is up for election in November.

The District 2 seat has been empty since the start of the year following Commissioner Tod Mowery’s abrupt resignation over allegations he had an affair with a firefighter’s wife. Mowery also served on the Fire District Board and was first elected to the Commission in 2010.

In the time since, at least nine people have sent applications to Gov. Scott’s Office of Appointments to be considered.

The Office released four of the nine to St. Lucie Voice and was working to release the remaining five – or confirm the five were still under consideration – as of press time.

Those seeking Gov. Scott’s appointment are: Anthony Bonna, Debra Browning, Donald Cole, Mark Godwin, Charles Grande, Bobby Hopkins, Daniel Kurek, James A. Taylor and Cheryl White.

Already, several have filed for the November election for the full four-year term. Those include Bonna, Godwin, Hopkins, Kurek, Taylor and White, all Republicans. Democrat Sean P. Mitchell has also filed for the election but has not filed an application for the appointment with the Governor’s Office.

County Commissioners receive a salary of more than $79,000 annually.

Bonna, 30, of Fort Pierce, is the owner of a marketing company and was elected Republican State Committeeman, according to his application. He has also worked as a financial analyst and legislative affairs director for the State of Florida.

Bonna was a senior researcher for the Rick Scott for Governor campaign in 2010 as well as the campaign manager for Karen Diebel for Congress campaign in 2009-10.

In St. Lucie County, Bonna was a finance intern for the County’s Finance Department in 2006 and a budget intern for the County’s Office of Management and Budget.

“I grew up in St. Lucie County District 2 and have always been passionate about giving back to a community that has invested so much in me,” Bonna writes in his application, “whether through civic groups like Rotary, political action on federal, state, and local campaigns, ministry, or supporting local non-profits.”

Hopkins, 60, of Fort Pierce, is the owner/president of DeBartolo Stucco and Drywall. His company has been a sub-contractor for St. Lucie County, the City of Fort Pierce, and the City of Vero Beach.

Hopkins has served as a member of the St. Lucie County Planning and Zoning board as well as the Port of Fort Pierce Advisory Committee. He is a former candidate for St. Lucie County Tax Collector.

“I have lived, worked and raised a family in St. Lucie County,” Hopkins writes in his application. “I have businesses here and experienced the ebb and flow of the economy in our county.”

Hopkins played football for the United States Football League and has competed in arm wrestling competitions – winning 11 World Champion titles. He is also the pastor of Fairlawn Baptist Church and the Living Word Ministry.

Charles Grande, 77, of Jensen Beach, is a former St. Lucie County Commissioner who served from 2006 to 2010. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve, having served in the 1960s.

Grande has served on the St. Lucie County Planning and Zoning Board both prior to and following his term as a commissioner, according to his application. He has also served as a representative on the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and the St. Lucie County Fire District.

“I believe I am uniquely qualified as I served I this office (St. Lucie County Commissioner) in the past and have kept current on all business coming before them,” he writes in his application.

Grande is a member of MENSA, a former director of the Hibiscus Children’s Center, and the current director of the Rivers Coalition.

Cheryl White, whose age and address were redacted from the application, is currently the Stuart City Clerk, having been there since 2003. White has served as a municipal Planning and Zoning Board member as well as a member of the Sign Committee.

“With my background, I feel that I can help with the future vision of St. Lucie County,” she writes in her application. “I also have the know-how, leadership skills and 30-plus years experience that will lend to a smooth transition..”

Due to the timing of St. Lucie Voice’s public records request to the Office of Appointments, the office was only able to release four applications. In the time following the initial request and its fulfillment, five other applications were submitted to the State.

Those applications are from retired St. Lucie County Criminal Justice Coordinator Mark Godwin, retired St. Lucie County Deputy Administrator Daniel Kurek, former Port St. Lucie City Council candidate James A. Taylor, and residents Debra Browning and Donald Cole.

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