For the past 40 years Anderson has been a resident of Lee County and has worked as a planner, environmental educator and businessman. He was also instrumental in writing the County's first Comprehensive Land Plan. He says it is his experience and understanding about what is happening with Lee County resources and taxpayer money that motivated him to run. Anderson has a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.
"People want a government they can trust and our Lee County Commission is leading us down the wrong path by dismantling our Comp Plan, destroying or misusing Conservation 20-20 and most importantly by putting special interests ahead of the public good," said the well-spoken candidate.
Others who have been well-placed in Lee County government share Anderson's concern.
For example, Former Commissioner Ray Judah - long known as Lee County's "environmental commissioner - agreed with Anderson and pointed out that since Kiker has taken office the county's water problems have become much worse.
"Larry Kiker should be known as the "Clewiston Commissioner," said Judah referring to Big Sugar's involvement in Kiker's campaign. Clewiston is the home town for US Sugar.
In 2012, when Kiker first ran for County Commissioner, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by PACS heavily funded by the sugar industry and other politically powerful special interest groups interested in seeing Kiker get elected. Many of these groups use massive amounts of water to conduct business and it is widely postulated that these uses have heavily contributed to South Florida's water woes.
"Many of our current water management problems can be directly traced to these special interest groups and their end uses," Judah added.
Anderson says he recognizes and relates to why voters are totally disconnected from their local leaders, especially Commissioner Kiker.
"It's about ethics in government. People want someone they can trust and right now we have a man representing District 3 that is under a State Ethics investigation, is being looked at by the FBI for misfeasance in office. He's also heavily involved in the removal of 50 Lee County staff members for whistleblower lawsuits all being paid for by our taxpayers."
Both the Sun Bay Paper and the NewsPress have published recent articles about investigations against Kiker. One detailed report in the NewsPress set forth very specific omissions in Kiker's meeting logs. As noted by reporter Patricia Borns, the logs are required by law and it was noted that the omissions involved meetings with key current Lee County developers and lobbyists. Most notable were several meetings with Developer Tom Torgerson whose proposed real estate development on Fort Myers Beach has been met with heavy public opposition.
When asked why he is running, Anderson cited mounting problems with the Lee County's water issues.
"My background has led me to this moment where I feel the need to serve the community. Our leaders are making irreversible decisions like approving developments in the DRGR (DENSITY REDUCTION GROUNDWATER RESOURCE ) area, decisions that compromise our public water supply. We are also seeing a big increase in the number of lawsuits being filed against the County where taxpayers are footing the bill. We have to stop this dangerous, costly and unethical behavior. We also need accountable leaders who do not ignore those who elect them," he jointly told reporters from the Sun Bay and Fort Myers NewsPress yesterday.
"Yesterday the Captains for Clean Water were at a meeting where many of our public officials were also present. The Captains are seeing horrible declines in our fisheries and water clarity, red tides, brown algae breakouts and the like. They presented these issues to our leaders and they completely disregarded their concerns and just went on espousing platitudes without ever discussing root causes like sending water from Lake Okeechobee south to the Everglades. There is a critical need for additional storage, treatment and conveyance of water to the south. This is a real solution to our problem - practices that will restore sound water management to South Florida," Anderson added.
Anderson sees better partnering with the SW Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the State and private land owners as the key to improving water flows. He feels the County Commissioners have a bigger role to play and must get more "proactive" when it comes to quality of life issues particularly water sourcing and quality.
"Because of my background in land planning I understand what the stakeholders want but I'm tired of hearing it's an insurmountable problem. I'm not going to accept anymore that the SFWMD only wants to work to finish projects already on the books over the next 20 years. We don't have the luxury of that much time. C-43 storage and water storage in the Kissimmee basin is only a part of the solution we must restore water flows south now or we may never fix the problem," Anderson elaborated
When asked how specifically he would move to implement his plans if elected, Anderson was not at a loss for ideas.
"There's a bottleneck created by land uses south of the lake and that bottleneck has existed to benefit a handful of private landowners and uses like Big Sugar and agribusiness. These interests have to be held up to taxpayer scrutiny. People need to see that their own tax dollars are supporting the very problems that are vexing us the most. A County Commissioner has a duty to do what is right for all of us, not just a few big donors to their campaigns," said Anderson with passion.
"We now have a critical need to do what is right for the public good," he concluded.
By Carl Conley