LOXAHATCHEE GROVES — The concerns here were specific, in keeping with a place that has a particular way of living.
Sure, residents at the decades-old nudist community wanted to know how the hopefuls for the town's first governing slate would handle pressure from developers, the budget and hiring the town's first employees.
Those have been the staple questions of the previous town council debates.
But people from Sunsport Gardens Family Naturist Resort on Thursday night had other concerns: whether pesticides from nurseries are contaminating groundwater; what to do about noise from nearby ATVs; how the candidates could get the county to better control stray animals; and how to get zoning in order to connect more sites in Sunsport to the resort's sewage treatment plant.
There are 70 sites in the resort, with an estimated 100 registered voters. People also can vacation there.
The debate, attended by nine of the 10 candidates, took on a more festive feel than the usual stuffy candidate forums.
Tiki torches lit the path to the pavilion where the event was held. About 60 residents attended, most from the resort. Some sat naked, tanned torsos leaning against sarong-draped plastic chairs. A cool breeze carried the smell of chlorine from the pool.
A string of chest-length beads and beard his only cover, owner Morley Schloss moderated the candidates.
"Nothing to hide," Schloss said. That was a reference to the body and the hopefuls' intentions.
Schloss said two of the candidates had responded to his invitation within one minute. Only Seat 1 candidate Toni Vorsteg didn't show, saying she felt the atmosphere wasn't in keeping with what her children and church would be comfortable with.
Four hopefuls arrived early for dinner: Dave Autrey, Marge Herzog, Bill Louda and Ilene Rindom.
In terms of ...
"The nurseries are out here to make money," Schiola said. "The more fertilizers and pesticides they use, the more money they spend."
Seat 4 candidate Darlene Crawford said a survey of nursery practices might be in order to determine whether drinking water was at risk, though she thought it was unlikely.
"A lot of people live on their own property, so they're not going to contaminate their drinking water," Crawford said.
Seat 5 candidate Dennis Lipp said a citizens patrol could give residents a better link to law enforcement. Rindom said the new council could let the county know about slow response times to animal control issues.
Seat 2 candidate Louda said he'd be fine with zoning that would let the sewage hookups go through, as long as the change wouldn't increase density.