By Florence Kizza
“It should be an interesting next few years,” says Steven Abrams, fresh out of his swearing-in ceremony as Palm Beach County District 4 commissioner at the end of March.
Abrams, the former mayor of Boca Raton, replaced Commissioner Mary McCarty, who resigned in January amidst a federal probe.
Abrams brings with him familiarity with the movers and shakers in the district.
“I represented District 4 for several years as a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities,” he said.
“Between that and the fact that as mayor of Boca, I attended all of the meetings involving the mayors of all the 12 municipalities in the district, I’m very familiar with them all, and I really look forward to serving them.”
In fact, Abrams plans to retain the existing staff in the District 4 office, citing their knowledge and energy.
“They certainly know the lay of the land better than anyone,” he said. “The residents will be seeing a lot of them, as well as me. We’ll be getting out of the office.”
With a motivated staff behind him, Abrams has several ideas for the district. First up is a revival of the Mayor-Town Manager meetings that used to be held every few months, but with some new twists.
For one thing, Abrams wants to meet with the municipalities both individually and all together.
“It’s a good interchange,” he asserts. “You can learn how what’s happening in one community can affect the others.”
Secondly, resident involvement is a goal.
“One of my plans is to do a series of open houses in the municipalities to meet with elected officials, an opportunity for residents to come by and get to know what issues are on the forefront.”
Abrams tells The Coastal Star
that he understands the issues affecting District 4’s coastal communities.
“Over the years, I’ve worked closely with elected officials, both past and present, in the coastal communities,” he said. “There are longtime elected officials in those communities who I’ve known for years. I’ve been in their shoes and think we'll be able to work very well together.”
For example, on the issue of deepening and widening the Boynton Inlet, Abrams said, “It’s all interrelated. It’s almost like dominoes — sometimes what happens on one town’s beach or waterways can affect others. You do have to bring in the experts and the neighbors when talking about coastal management issues.”
And on the development of Briny Breezes, insomuch that the proposed developers were based in Boca Raton: “The location of the developers would not shade my view on any project. I’d discuss with all the affected parties and come up with my own position.”
Abrams has said he plans to run for the District 4 commissioner seat in 2010, when his current term runs out, and he might have competition.
Former League of Women Voters President Pamela Goodman, Boca Raton Councilwoman Susan Haynie and Boynton Beach Vice Mayor Jose Rodriguez have all expressed interest in the position.