Meet your Seat 2 challenger candidate: Juli Casale

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you have lived in Delray, where you live, your profession, your family. 

I began visiting Delray Beach in 1998. Immediately, I knew this is where I wanted to live.  My husband and I purchased a home in Delray in 2005, and we have been here ever since.  We are raising our 10-year-old daughter, Kiki, here. I plan to live in Delray for the rest of my life. I am a retired business woman, but I am often called a community activist by my friends and neighbors.

Why are you running for office and what experiences qualify you to be a commissioner?

I waged a successful two-year battle in opposition to a proposed 102-unit development in my neighborhood. Through this process I learned first-hand how the Commission can both preserve the character of our neighborhoods and promote citizen-friendly development.

I currently serve the City as board member of the Planning and Zoning Advisory Board and a board member of the nonprofit Delray Beach Preservation Trust.

What I bring to the Commission is sound business judgment–honed over many years in the private sector. I think the Commission would benefit from my perspective as an engaged resident and my experience running a successful business.  My priorities include protecting and preserving our neighborhoods, encouraging citizen-friendly development and reducing traffic congestion.

What are the top three issues you want to address in the city if elected or re-elected?

We must continue to replace and repair our aging infrastructure, explore solutions to flooding due to sea-level rise, and carefully monitor future development in our City. As our Village by the Sea grows – we are making more demands on our infrastructure.  Flooding is worsening with climate change.  And more development brings increased traffic along with the need for additional parking.  We must make sure we are always looking to the future and as a City, address these on going challenges.

Delray is known as the “Village by the Sea” but it is also a popular city. How would you balance “keeping the charm” with the need to grow the tax base as the city attracts more people?

The key is balanced growth. There are expenses and costs that accompany growth.  Growing the tax base is not necessarily a net plus. Expenses, like police, fire and education services, invariably grow with the City’s expansion. Each proposal that expands the City has to be carefully assessed in cost/benefit terms and in terms of how it fits with our shared goal of retaining  Delray’s character as a “village by the sea.” As a former business owner, that kind of analysis is right in my wheel house.

City Hall has had a lot of turnover with city staff. Why do you think that is and how would you work to re-establish stability?

I have spoken to the new City Manager, George Gretsas. I am very confident that he has what it takes to re-establish stability.  In his previous city manager position, Mr. Gretsas was well-regarded. He also had an impressively high employees retention rate. By all accounts he is a great leader.  In Delray, he is focused on filling empty positions quickly.  He is meeting with city staff to assure them that their jobs are intact. He is working on building trust and showing people that they are valued.  I would be honored to work with Mr. Gretsas.

How do you approach the relationship you will have as a commissioner with city staff?

Mutual respect and team work.  My assumption is that city staff shares the same goals as I. We have competent people on our city staff  who could earn greater salaries in the private sector. But they are serving the City of Delray Beach because they are committed to the city, as I am. I think we’ll work well together.