Germaine Butler quietly threw her hat in the race last month, filing her candidacy paperwork for Pinecrest Village Council Seat 4 before the qualifying period closed. Her opponent, Cherilyn Ball, has been on the campaign trail since February.
Butler says she made up her mind to run after her neighbor was burglarized twice in a two-month period, and that more crime watch committees and more police patrols will be “number one” on her list of priorities.
Other major platform points include eliminating impact fees, making all village parks dog-friendly, making mayoral terms two years instead of four, compensating council members, no annexation west of U.S. 1, and getting rid of the village’s new red-light camera program.
Until recently, Ball was the only candidate for Seat 4. A first-time candidate, Ball has lived in the area for 25 years, She says she “started a career in advocacy” when she first got involved with her children’s school.
Ball says she’s been to Tallahassee to advocate for legislative agendas – including the successful class-size reduction amendment – and worked to get Evelyn Greer elected to the Miami-Dade County School Board in 2004. After a two-year stint in Greer’s office, Ball has been in the community working with cancer nonprofit Relay for Life as well as sitting on the transportation and education committees for the village.
“Pinecrest is such an amazing community, and we get most things right. … I’m not unhappy about anything, I would just like to continue that momentum,” Ball said. “I think that between my legislative experience and advocacy across the board and boots-on-the ground community activism, I think that this would be a good fit.”
She says her priorities would be to get all residents hooked up to county water, to figure out if a fire department for Pinecrest is the right decision for the village, and transportation.
As for some for the capital improvement projects the village is considering – expanding the community center, the municipal chamber, and redeveloping two parks — Ball says the village might want to slow things down and survey the community “to really evaluate what the priorities are that are needs, as well as wants. I’m a big proponent of needs more than wants.”
Butler is a self-proclaimed “soil activist” whose campaign slogan is ‘Lettuce Grow Better.’ She also wants a moratorium on new sidewalks, maintained landscapes at building sites, and strict set-back requirements for large new residential developments.
“I think we’re over-building and over-sizing in Pinecrest,” she said.
She also wants property tax exemptions for longtime residents who build unattached home additions — something she wants to do on her own property.
“I think that the retirees — or the semi-retirees, I should say — are not making what we used to make,” she said.
The merchandizing and marketing manager at Galloway Farm Nursery, Butler is also the founding president of the Pinecrest Garden Club. As an inaugural member of the Pinecrest Gardens committee, she helped establish the Farmers Market at the gardens.
Butler has run for council twice before. In 2012, she challenged incumbent Bob Ross for Seat 2 on the council and came in third in a three-person race. Two years before, she went up against incumbent Joseph Corradino for council Seat 4 — the same seat she now hopes again to win. Term-limited, Corradino cannot seek re-election again.
Butler says she’s never accepted donations from anyone other than friends and family, but this time around, she says won’t be accepting any money at all and is self-funding with as little as possible. She’ll also be recycling the few campaign signs she made when she last ran for Seat 4, she says.
Ball, on the other hand, has already raised $16,500.
Seat 2 also is up for grabs, with retired firefighter Douglas Kraft and chiropractor Jeffrey Solomon in the race since February.
Election Day is Nov. 4.