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Senator proposes income, experience requirements for some little-known elected positions

Senator Travis Hutson is sponsoring bill that would require candidates to have agricultural background for Soil and Water Conservation District positions.
Credit: Jessica Clark

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Some elected positions that usually fly under the radar are under the microscope by a senator from St. Johns County.

The Soil and Water Conservation Districts are boards made up of elected positions across the state.

Senator Travis Hutson is sponsoring a bill that would require candidates for the soil and water district to work in the agricultural industry or to have retired from it.

"We need to get back to their core business and mission which is to help the ag[riculture] industry and not focus on other things," he said. 

However Nicole Crosby, the Chairperson of the St. Johns Soil and Water Conservation District, said the state statute does not require the districts to only help with agricultural issues.

"There are all kinds of land we need to protect," Crosby said. "It's not just to worry about conservation of resources in farms and ranches."

Another requirement Hutson presented to a senate committee meeting in Tallahassee Monday would require candidates to come from a farming business that brings in more than $500,000 of profit. Hutson told First coast News Tuesday that he plans to take that stipulation off the table.  

He received quite a bit of pushback about that requirement in the meetings.

Crosby believes Senator Hutson, a developer of large neighborhoods in northeast Florida, is out for revenge because she won the election and the candidate his business supported did not. That opponent received thousands of dollars from developers.

"I think he's interested in eliminating people who are conservation minded," Crosby said.

"It's not retaliatory at all," Hutson responded. "If it were truly retaliatory, I would just focus on getting rid of St. Johns County's water management district, not trying to take on the state policy that gets rid of all of them."

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