New commissioner relishing chance to make a difference

For about a month, there’s been a new face on the St. Lucie County Commission, that of 30-year-old Anthony Bonna, a Fort Pierce resident, who has long been involved in the community.

“It was instilled in me at a young age,” Bonna said of community service, that if you care about something, you need to stand up for it. “That’s the approach I’ve always taken.”

So, when former District 2 Commissioner Tod Mowery resigned his post effective Jan. 1, Bonna and several others applied for the seat, seeking Gov. Rick Scott’s appointment.

What put Bonna ahead of all the rest is not publicly known. Gov. Scott’s office would not provide anything more specific than the following statement to St. Lucie Voice: “The Governor appoints people that he believes will faithfully serve Floridians and put the interests of St. Lucie families first.”

Bonna, for his part, wouldn’t speculate on the governor’s reasons for selecting him.

Instead, he points to his long-established desire to improve the community, starting as an intern at the Oxbow Eco-Center and later as an intern at the County Clerk’s Office and in the Office of Management and Budget.

“I’ve always had a strong interest” in county government, Bonna said.

Bonna is one of too few St. Lucie County residents who graduate from high school here, move away for college and eventually return for a good-paying job.

Bonna said that’s one of the issues he hopes to tackle while on the County Commission. “We need the best and brightest” to come back to St. Lucie County, he said.

Bonna will serve for just a few months, finishing Mowery’s term, which ends Nov. 16. Bonna hopes voters will approve of the job he is currently doing and vote for him this fall.

Prior to the appointment, Bonna had filed for the election but publicly pledged to withdraw from the race if he were not selected. “I trusted the governor to select the best person to serve St. Lucie County,” he said.

As for the application process, Bonna said it was quite extensive. At one point, the governor wanted to meet Bonna face to face.

“When you get a call from the governor, (the schedule) works for you,” Bonna said. He said the governor was “very gracious” and they had a “wonderful conversation.” He didn’t hear from the governor again for about a month.

Bonna was officially sworn in shortly after his appointment in March, and has since sat on the dais for the March 20 commission meeting. As of press time Tuesday morning, he was expected to be publicly sworn in at the April 3 commission meeting. “My favorite part is being able to help people,” said Bonna, who added he is already making connections in the community. And, his fellow commissioners have been as welcoming as they can, given they can’t discuss official business outside of publicly noticed meetings.

“We are a team,” he said. “The commissioners have been very gracious.”   

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