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Martin County Commission holds first meeting since 2 commissioners arrested

Posted at 8:21 AM, Dec 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-13 05:24:51-05

The Martin County Commission held its first meeting since two of its commissioners were accused of violating public records law.

Commissioner Sarah Heard and Commissioner Ed Fielding were in attendance.

Neither said much when asked by WPTV’s Andrew Ruiz to comment. Ruiz approached them outside, prior to the meeting, since neither had spoken directly to WPTV about the charges.

During the commissioner comments portion of the meeting Heard said in part: 

“I certainly can’t get blamed for the big payout to Lake Point. That was a breach of contract, a lawsuit brought on by Lake Point. We didn’t ever breach the contract therefore I voted against the settlement. I also want to correct the record. There has been for some unknowable reason, reports stating as fact in the Stuart News that I was arrested two weeks ago. I’ve never been arrested. I have no idea why they’re spreading these rumors or who the sources of the rumors are.”

Fielding avoided the topic of his arrest altogether. He spoke about the weather, holidays and great future in store for Martin County.

Last month Commissioner Fielding turned himself in on a warrant for failure to allow inspections of public records.

Commissioner Sarah Heard did not get booked since she faces a non-criminal charge.  Heard is accused of not responding  promptly to a public records request in January 2013. She entered a written not guilty plea and is requesting a trial.

Members of the public spoke in support of Heard and Fielding Tuesday. In all, three people stood up to speak.

"Thousands of residence and voters support Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding and are grateful for the years of dedication and service to the public, to the environment and to our quality of life,” Virginia Sherlock of Stuart said. “I hope that the outrageous efforts to deprive residents of our chosen advocates on this commission will soon be put to rest.”

Regina Wood of Palm City said, “Speaking out for responsible development…is not being a trouble maker, it’s not being against progress or change, it is simply doing the right thing. It is no secret that at this time, under tremendous amount of pressure, money and special interest is trying to force Martin County to change important rules and regulations that are essential for responsible growth.”

Ted Astolfi, Interim CEO of the Economic Council of Martin County was the only person who spoke against the commissioners alleged crimes, saying in part, “Commissioner Sarah Heard and Ed Fielding, we feel violated the public’s trust. (They) claimed to be staunch proponents of transparency and government; yet in an era where there is lack of trust in public politicians, in all levels of government, these two sitting commissioners have been charged with violating public records laws.”

Astofi said his comments represent those of the Palm City and Jensen Beach Chambers of Commerce and the Florida Farm Bureau.