After requesting resignations from the entire South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) board, Gov. Ron DeSantis named Chauncey Goss and “Alligator” Ron Bergeron as his first two replacements to that panel.
DeSantis made the Goss announcement at a Tuesday news conference in Naples at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.
Goss has twice run unsuccessfully for Congress, speaking out on local water issues. He also publicly backed DeSantis’ efforts to call for the resignation of current SFWMD board members.
A handful of the board’s members complied with the Governor’s request, but not all did. Board member Sam Accursio, whose term ends in March regardless, questioned whether DeSantis had the authority to make such a demand.
“If he has a good reason, and if he has a person to replace me that’s better than myself, I will discuss it,” Accursio said.
But Goss sided with DeSantis in a statement on Twitter.
Governing Board @sfwmd claims they do not serve at pleasure of Governor or Senate, but they are not elected and they have ad valorem taxing authority. Where exactly does accountability to taxpayer lie? Time to rethink this structure? @RepBrianMast @GovRonDeSantis
— Chauncey Goss (@ChaunceyGoss) January 11, 2019
DeSantis then traveled south to Everglades Holiday Park in Broward County to tap Bergeron for that county’s seat on the board.
Bergeron is a longtime environmental activist, with a particular interest in the Everglades. He advised Gov. DeSantis on the environment during the campaign.
Bergeron also has experience as a developer and spent a decade on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who has sided with DeSantis on some of the state’s water management issues, praised both appointments.
In a statement, Mast cited Goss’ work with a pair of environmental groups.
“Based on my conversations with him, I believe he will be a passionate advocate for reform and help advance the Governor’s bold plan to clean up Florida’s waterways. On top of that, he’s a great pick in the fight to make South Florida Water Management District represent the people, not special interests.”
Goss serves on the board of both of those groups.
He’s the son of Porter Goss, a former congressman who served as CIA Director and was a vocal advocate for Everglades restoration projects. He also was Mayor of Sanibel and a Lee County Commissioner in the 1970s and ’80s.
And on Bergeron, Mast cited his history of advocacy on behalf of the state’s wetlands.
“Having lived his entire life in the Everglades, Ron Bergeron understands the complexities of restoration better than almost anybody,” Mast said.
“He has a proven track record of not taking crap from anyone in his pursuit of doing what is best for the Everglades — a perspective that is sorely needed on a board that for far too long has operated without any transparency and prioritized special interests above the people of Florida.”