Glades candidates discuss their goals for county

MOORE HAVEN — Four candidates are on the ballot for two Glades County commissioner positions in Tuesday’s election.

Incumbent John Ahern faces challenger Jerri Lynn Schlueter for the Glades County Board seat of District 4; Jeff Barnes is running against Donna Storter Long for her District 2 seat.

County Board District 2

Jeff Barnes

Jeff Barnes: A “no party affiliation” candidate, Mr. Barnes, 45, was born in Avon Park, moved to Glades County in 1995 and has lived in Ortona for the past 12 years. He works with the Glades County Youth Livestock organization and is president of the Glades County Hunting Club. “I’m just looking to get out and bring some new vision and a new set of eyes into the community and try to do whatever change we can for the betterment of the community,” he said. Married with two children — one who graduated from high school last year and is attending welding school in Jacksonville and the other a sophomore at Moore Haven Junior-Senior High School — he has worked for Hawkins Chemical, a water treatment plant, for more than a decade and is manager of the LaBelle branch. Mr. Barnes, a first-time candidate, said of the biggest issues he’s concerned about: “I think the county needs to have some moderate growth. You know, it’s kind of going in the wrong direction. Times are changing and we’re staying stuck in the past. I’d like to see it grow a little bit, maybe get some more stores and something for the people. I think we need to keep our land on the tax base, and of course water quality is a big issue, so I’d like to see that improved as well.”

Donna Storter Long

Donna Storter Long: The incumbent Republican has been a county commissioner since 2006 and has achieved advanced commissioner status with the Florida Association of Counties continuing education program. She has supported many community projects to help the county, citing the Ortona Community Center, park and playground; the Ortona Cemetery pavilion; the Muse fire station, park and playground; the Washington Park Community Center; upgrading of boat ramps and reopening of the Buckhead Ridge Pearce Canal, among others. “Your concerns are my concerns,” she tells voters in a mailer. “I respond when you call or contact me and do my best to resolve county-related matters. As senior member of the commission, my experience enables me to connect our past achievements with our future goals.” She also represents Glades on various regional boards, including for library, planning, trauma care, juvenile justice and risk management.

County Board District 4

John Ahern

John Ahern: The incumbent Republican is finishing his first term and is in his second year as chairman of the board after serving as vice chairman the previous year. Prior to that, he served for 28 years on the Moore Haven City Council, seven years as mayor and 18 years as financial officer. He owns and operates Ahern’s LLC, a service center and convenience store/deli on U.S. 27; is a founding director and chairman of the Glades County Economic Development Council, a board member of the Glades Youth Livestock Show Inc. for 40 years and treasurer for 30-plus years, a firefighter for the Glades Volunteer Fire Department for 19 years, and a board member for two years and chairman for two years of the Glades Correctional Development Corp. Mr. Ahern says he enjoys strong working relationships with state and federal representatives as well as local school and city officials. “We need growth, and everything that we’re trying to do is to promote growth. We’ve been working on the (Moore Haven) hotel. (The county sought proposals for redevelopment of the old Glades Inn site, for which planning is in progress.) There are several things we need, but it’s basically just everything we’re doing is trying to grow so we can increase our tax base. Right now we’re just not big enough to sustain a lot of businesses that we need, but we need more people and we need more of the amenities that they need, and that would change everything for us.”

Jerri Lynn Schlueter

Jerri Lynn Schlueter: A Democrat, Ms. Schlueter is a third-generation, lifetime resident of the county who has been married 24 years and has three daughters. Most recently, she worked for the City of Moore Haven in positions ranging from permit clerk up to public works director and FEMA-certified emergency preparedness manager. She was in charge of supervising code enforcement, utilities, waste collection and maintenance of city facilities. “I was the go-to person for all matters concerning municipal services, from overseeing day-to-day operations to fielding complaints.” She is involved with Moore Haven Middle-High School Advisory Council, the county Youth Athletic Association, the Chalo Nitka Festival Committee and the county Economic Development Council. “I am seeking this position to serve you, the citizens, not for personal gain. My goals are to help promote and enhance the economic, academic and commercial growth of our great county, while ensuring protection of our wonderful natural resources. I’ve worked closely with county staff during my city employment and realize the inherent struggles and successes. I am well prepared to serve as one of the five commissioners to develop policies and oversee management thereof,” she says in a mailer. “I give 100 percent to any task I take on.”

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