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Town growth at crux of Jupiter mayor's race

3 candidates acknowledge challenges of growth, each with different takes on how to manage it
Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 16:52:14-05

JUPITER, Fla. — It's a battle for the heart and soul of Jupiter, plus the future of a now-booming town. Perhaps it's a mayoral election unlike any other in the town with more mailers and more candidates this go around.

In this election for the mayor of Jupiter, there are three candidates. Most residents seem to agree there is a lot at stake, including the delicate balancing act of maintaining the sleepy oceanside feel of the town, coupled with rapid growth.

campaign signs for Jupiter mayoral candidates Ilan Kaufer, Jim Kuretski and Patrick Gallagher
Campaign signs for the three mayoral candidates, Ilan Kaufer, Jim Kuretski and Patrick Gallagher, can be seen in Jupiter.

Ilan Kaufer lives in Abacoa with his wife and two children. He is an environmental project manager and town council member, including roles served as vice mayor.

"The top three points for my campaign are really focused on public safety, environmental conservation and government transparency," he said.

Jim Kuretski lives in Jupiter Shores and is a longtime town council member. He is also a project manager at Florida Power & Light. He called himself a champion of responsible growth management.

"It's really about the very soul of our town, which we believe is uniquely Jupiter," he explained.

Patrick Gallagher is a retired Martin County firefighter, training office and administrator. He said public safety is at the top of his list.

"No. 1, law enforcement. We are severely understaffed," he said. "Right now, they go underneath a Census of 65,000 residents in Jupiter. It far exceeds that, because this Census is 20 years old, so we need more officers."

Patrick Gallagher says more police officers are needed in Jupiter
Patrick Gallagher says he believes more police officers are needed in Jupiter.

All three candidates seem to acknowledge growth is always a challenge, especially in Jupiter. The solution, perhaps, is where they differ.

Kuretski said he opposes new development and redevelopment that he doesn't see as a good fit.

"People expect it's 'just a matter of time,'" he said. "It doesn't have to be a matter of time. We can control growth, as we have or have tried to do, and still keep it uniquely special. We're not West Palm Beach. We're not Boca (Raton). We're not (Fort) Lauderdale, and we don't want to be. The special interest money want us to be that. We don't want it."

Kaufer said it's about balancing environmental efforts with the conveniences that residents expect.

"I think the biggest issues in town are making sure we preserve our quality of life, and that's something that we need to work hard to do," he said. "There are pressures from outside, you know, whether it's economic pressures or development pressures, and we need to make sure that we work hard to maintain that unique quality of life that Jupiter has always had."

Ilan Kaufer wears his campaign shirt while looking at nature
Ilan Kaufer wears his campaign shirt while staring out into the beauty that Jupiter has to offer.

Gallagher said infrastructure must come before any building.

"I feel that developers are here," he said. "They really want to develop and they want to get people in here, but our infrastructure is not going to support this large influx of people. We need to take care of our infrastructure first."

On the public safety front, Kaufer said, he would like to hire a town manager who works effectively with law enforcement and creates an environment in which communication is open.

"I think it's important that we make sure that our police officers feel like they are valued," he said.

Kuretski said Jupiter's future, plus handling population growth, will take transportation planning and traffic control.

"Effectively, we are almost about built out with all the residential properties," he said. "What's left now is some of the commercial and industrial space that could completely overwhelm Jupiter."

Jim Kuretski at Kuretski Park
Jim Kuretski shares his thoughts about controlling growth in Jupiter while speaking to WPTV at Kuretski Park.

Gallagher said a proper plan is key. An example, he said, is that if a road or a bridge closes, alternate routes need to be ready to accommodate ahead of doing so. He believed his experience in fire management sets him apart in his ability to work with other departments.

"I am part of old Jupiter. My wife has been in Jupiter for 40 years," he said. "Everybody understands that Jupiter is going to grow. It's inevitable. We are never going to keep it a sleepy town. It has to be done right with the infrastructure."

As of last check, the three candidates will be watching the results come in from home at different locations across the town on Election Day.