City growth at heart of Jupiter mayoral race

JUPITER, Fla. — It’s a battle for the heart and soul of Jupiter, as well as the future of a booming city. This may be a mayoral election like no other in the city with more shippers and more candidates.

In this Jupiter mayoral election, there are three candidates. Most residents seem to agree that there’s a lot at stake, including the delicate balance between maintaining the city‘s sleepy oceanside atmosphere coupled with rapid growth.

John Bryja/WPTV

Campaign signs for the three mayoral candidates, Ilan Kaufer, Jim Kuretski and Patrick Gallagher, can be seen at Jupiter.

Ilan Kaufer lives in Abacoa with his wife and two children. He is an environmental project manager and a member of the municipal council, notably as vice-mayor.

“The three main points of my campaign are really about public safety, environmental preservation and government transparency,” he said.

Jim Kuretski lives in Jupiter Shores and is a longtime city council member. He is also a project manager at Florida Power & Light. He called himself a champion of responsible growth management.

“It’s really about the very soul of our city, which we believe is uniquely Jupiter,” he explained.

Patrick Gallagher is a retired Martin County firefighter, training bureau and administrator. He said public safety is at the top of his list.

“No. 1, law enforcement. We’re severely understaffed,” he said. “Right now they’re going under a census of 65,000 in Jupiter. It’s way beyond that, because that census is 20 years old, so we need more officers.”

Patrick Gallagher says Jupiter needs more police

John Bryja/WPTV

Patrick Gallagher says he believes more police are needed at Jupiter.

All three candidates seem to recognize that growth is always a challenge, especially at Jupiter. The solution, perhaps, is where they differ.

Kuretski said he opposes new developments and redevelopments that he does not see as a good solution.

“People expect it to be ‘just a matter of time,'” he said. “It’s not necessarily a question of time. We can control the growth, as we have done or have tried to do, while keeping it unique. We are not West Palm Beach. We are not Boca (Raton). We’re not (Fort) Lauderdale, and we don’t want to be. Special interest money wants us to be that. We don’t want to be.

Kaufer said it’s about balancing environmental efforts with the amenities residents expect.

“I think the biggest issues in town are making sure we maintain our quality of life, and that’s something we have to work hard for,” he said. “There are outside pressures, you know, whether it’s economic pressures or development pressures, and we have to make sure that we work hard to maintain this unique quality of life that Jupiter has always had.”

Ilan Kaufer wears his country shirt looking out into nature

John Bryja/WPTV

Ilan Kaufer wears his campaign shirt while gazing at the beauty that Jupiter has to offer.

Gallagher said infrastructure must come before any building.

“I feel the developers are there,” he said. “They really want to expand and bring people here, but our infrastructure is not going to support this massive influx of people. We have to take care of our infrastructure first.”

On the public safety front, Kaufer said he would like to hire a city manager who works effectively with law enforcement and creates an environment where communication is open.

“I think it’s important that we make sure our police officers feel valued,” he said.

Kuretski said the future of Jupiter, in addition to managing population growth, will require transportation planning and traffic control.

“In fact, we’re almost ready to build with all residential properties,” he said. “What’s left now is some commercial and industrial space that could completely overwhelm Jupiter.”

Jim Kuretski at Kuretski Park

John Bryja/WPTV

Jim Kuretski shares his thoughts on controlling Jupiter’s growth while speaking to WPTV at Kuretski Park.

Gallagher said a proper plan is key. One example, he said, is if a road or bridge closes, alternative routes must be ready to adapt before they do. He believed his experience in fire management set him apart for his ability to work with other departments.

“I’m part of old Jupiter. My wife has been in Jupiter for 40 years,” he said. “Everyone understands that Jupiter is going to grow. It’s inevitable. We’re never going to make it a sleepy city. It has to be done right with the infrastructure.”

In the final check, the three candidates will watch the results roll in from their homes to different locations around town on Election Day.

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