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Gov. Ron DeSantis on Lover's Key with wife Casey DeSantis.


Ron DeSantis appoints Benjamin Butler to South Florida Water Management District

It’s the last appointment on the nine-member board.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has filled the last slot on the South Florida Water Management District’s governing board.

Benjamin Butler of Lorida was appointed to a final vacancy on the board. Butler, manager of the family-owned Butler Oaks Farms, has served as director of the Okeechobee Farm Bureau since 2007 and as president of the Okeechobee Youth Livestock Show since 2008.

He holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in animal science from the University of Florida.

DeSantis, during a public stop at Lover’s Key In Fort Myers Beach, noted Butler represents Florida’s inland area.

“We basically have eight coastal folks now,” DeSantis said. “This will be someone more from the Heartland, which is from south Orange County down and a pretty big land mass.”

Butler will represent an area that includes Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange Osceola and Polk counties, according to the district.

The appointment remains subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

DeSantis immediately after taking office demanded the resignation of all sitting members of the South Florida Water Management District. Eventually, they did.

Now every member of the district has been appointed by DeSantis and replaced appointments made by former Gov. Rick Scott.

DeSantis said he was pleased with the makeup of the board.

“I think this is a good step in the right direction,” he said.

Chauncey Goss, chair of the District’s Governing Board, stood with the Governor as his remarks were made.

The Governor’s comments came while he was promoting the new website DeSantis first announced the site early Tuesday morning in South Florida.

The website compiles data from several state agencies tracking red tide, blue-green algae and other environmental issues.

Environmental protection has become a signature agenda item for DeSantis since he took office in January. Water quality, in particular, has been a focus on the administration.

DeSantis announced the final SFWMD appointment miles from where he announced a commitment of $2.5 billion over four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at

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