Republicans honor Sen. Ken Pruitt at barbecue

VERO BEACH — Indian River County Republicans recently said a fond farewell to State Senator Ken Pruitt, whose seat is up for grabs in the Aug. 4 special election. Pruitt currently represents the barrier island in the Florida Senate. He has also served as President of the Senate and as a representative in the Florida House representing the Treasure Coast. He is respected across party lines and adored by Republicans, as evidenced by the love-fest at the packed Heritage Center Saturday evening at the “Old-Fashioned Republican Barbecue” hosted by the Republican Executive Commitee.”We are blessed to have Ken Pruitt in our corner for our county, I worked with Senator Pruitt most when he was president of the Senate,” said Indian River County Tax Collector Carole Jean Jordan. “He’s done a wonderful job and represented us so well that we all took him for granted. He has always served with grace and statesmanship and had the ability to take a positive approach to the issues.”Though he did not represent Indian River County in the House, Pruitt has been known as the go-to person on local issues — especially business and education — and on navigating the morass of Tallahassee bureaucracy. He has worked with the Chamber and with local agencies on legislation vital to the economy and to the environment.Pruitt said he’s enjoyed working with all of Indian River County’s public officials, who he described as an effective and enthusiastic team. One of the collective accomplishments Pruitt said he’s most proud of working on is the expansion of Indian River State College and making the satellite campuses more robust. He said it was important to him that the campuses, including the Mueller Campus in Vero Beach, all grow congruently within the local communities.Gary Wheeler has worked with Pruitt in various capacities, both as a County Commissioner (now and in the late 1990s) and as Sheriff.”He has always been accessible, both locally and in Tallahassee and every time, he always told me the truth, whether he was opposed to something or not, he told us why,” Wheeler said. “Whether you liked what he said or not, he was always straight with you. So many of them want to be everything to everybody, but he was always honest.”Rep. Ralph Poppell introduced Pruit as the “Dean of our legislative delegation” and echoed Wheeler’s sentiment.”When I met Ken Pruitt 20 years ago, little did we know all that he would be involved in and all that he would do. Even when he was president of the Senate and he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, you could still walk in and be seen by the president of the Senate,” Poppell said. “I’m sad to see that he’s stepping down, but I know he’s not going far and we can still call on him.”Pruitt will be joining a St. Lucie County law firm as a specialist in public affairs.The candidates running for Pruitt’s seat include Republican Joe Negron of West Palm Beach, Democrat Bill Ramos of Jensen Beach and write-in candidate of West Palm Beach.

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