Bullsugar.org endorses Crystal Lucas for State House Representative, District 83, covering Martin and St. Lucie counties. Having specialized in environmental education and as the co-owner of a locally based marine carpentry business, Lucas is a long-time advocate for the health of Florida’s estuaries as well as a stakeholder.
Lucas has openly supported the science-backed solution to South Florida’s water crisis, sending water south from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. As an early signer of the Now Or Neverglades Declaration, Lucas has supported the movement since the beginning. She has studied Everglades restoration since high school, taught marine science and biology at Jensen Beach High School and Indian River State College, and may have the best grasp of any 2016 candidate of the science and principles behind the proposal to buy land in the Everglades Agricultural Area to store, treat, and convey clean freshwater to Florida Bay, restoring the historical sheet flows that sustained Florida’s storied “River of Grass.”
Lucas’ knowledge and experience on this issue has convinced her not to accept contributions from the sugar industry or its affiliated PACs. This stands in sharp contrast to her opponent, Gayle Harrell, who initially claimed to have accidentally accepted a single $500 contribution from a sugar subsidiary farm, but appears to have actually taken dozens of donations that can be linked back to Big Sugar and the industry’s supplementary partners.
Lucas has a record of activism on clean water issues. In 2014 she was at the forefront of the battle to pass the “Water and Land Legacy” amendment (Amendment 1), which would guarantee the allocation of funds for conservation land purchases including within the Everglades Agricultural Area. She has registered her frustration that despite the agreement of 75% of Florida voters, these resources have since been squandered in ways that voters never intended.
Meanwhile her opponent, Harrell, has been a fixture in Tallahassee for 14 years, representing people who live at ground zero for eastbound discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Yet, in all that time, Harrell showed no interest in the issue, the amendment, or the misuse of its funds until she drew Crystal Lucas as an opponent. Then suddenly she did.
Last year Harrell introduced a watered-down bill to spend some of the hijacked funds on vague Everglades restoration projects. To anyone following closely, Harrell’s recent environmental interest looks like an attempt to ‘greenwash’ her poor record as an advocate for a collapsing estuary. Worse, the Harrell bill allows funds to be diverted to peripheral, fringe projects, like water farming, instead of purchasing land south of the lake. As more than 200 scientists have warned, this is the key project to make Everglades restoration possible; by providing a way to avoid funding it, Harrell’s bill aligns perfectly with Big Sugar’s opposition to the solution. The bill could have been written by a sugar lobbyist.
The sugar industry clearly took notice of Lucas’ candidacy, funding smear campaigns against her campaign. In one recent case a political action committee, which had recently received a $45,000 contribution from U.S. Sugar Corp., issued a factually inaccurate mailer stating Crystal was literally defecating in our waters via her home’s septic system. This was a lie on several levels. The City of Stuart confirmed the property referenced is on a sewer line; it does not have a septic tank.
We think that any candidate sufficiently threatening to the sugar industry to get their henchmen to resort to this kind of vulgarity deserves a closer look. The more we saw from Lucas, the more clear it became that she deserves our vote. We are proud to endorse Crystal Lucas’ for Florida House District 83.