Friends Of Delray Candidate Questionnaire: Rob Long
Updated: Mar 4
1. As an experienced community leader, what do you consider your 3 greatest accomplishments?
I used my platform as Chair of the Palm Beach Soil & Water Conservation (SWCD) to help ensure Delray residents knew the truth about their drinking water. My opponent and the mayor attempted to dismiss safety issues with our water. I’m proud I was able to stand up for residents and demand accountability and transparency. Last year I won the Public Service Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for my advocacy.
In my role as Chair of the SWCD (6 years), I helped create a program called Ambassador to the Everglades that has educated thousands of PBC high school students on environmental stewardship and conservation.
In my 2-terms (4 years) serving on Delray’s Planning & Zoning Board, I’m proud to have voted in favor of many affordable housing projects, while following the City’s comprehensive plan and land development regulations and in the process, always looking out for the best interest of Delray residents.
2. If elected, what are the first three things you would like to accomplish as Commissioner?
Work with the Delray Police Department to fill vacancies, and generally support our first responders. After contract negotiations with the Police Union were extended 9 months past their deadline, we lost many officers to other cities and the PBSO. Crime is on the rise, and it’s vital we work with DBPD to recruit and retain officers to keep our residents safe. I’ll foster a positive working relationship with our Police and Fire departments to and ensure they’re always supported. That’s why I’m proudly endorsed by Delray’s Police and Fire Unions.
End the year-long lawsuit with Old School Square and focus on working with the OSS nonprofit who managed the property for 30+ along with the DDA to create a long-term vision for the OSS campus that doesn’t unduly burden taxpayers.
I’ll prioritize aligning the city’s Land Development Regulations with the city’s Comprehensive Plan that was built by residents. I’ll ensure the all future projects that are approved fit within the guidelines of our Comp Plan, such as prioritizing housing needs.
3. There are many who believe civic discourse in Delray has become divisive and toxic. As an elected City Commissioner what would you do to encourage civility and repair neighborliness?
I would focus on solving issues, not politics. It’s critical that commissioners debate from the dais in a professional manner. I would focus on advocating for all residents, not simply feeding a small base of supporters. I would avoid attacking my colleagues personally and stand against bullying from the dais. Mostly, I’d simply stay off Facebook. Rules for social media behavior for commissioners were implemented by the city attorney recently but are routinely ignored by my opponent and the mayor. My opponent uses social media to spread disinformation, attack residents, and incentivize her small base of supporters to sew discord in the community. This practice needs to end because it only divides residents and harms the culture of our city.
4. The historic racial divide in Delray continues to this day in one form or another. What do you believe the City Commission can do to enhance racial harmony and equality?
The Commission should prioritize the SET Transformation Plan. A good start would be to officially recognize our NW/SW communities by the name chosen by its residents and authors of the Transformation Plan, “The SET.” This symbolic gesture should be the first step towards a productive working relationship between the Coalition and other community organizations in the SET and the city. It’s critical we see our city as one Delray, which means one Atlantic Avenue. Our mayor has been focused on taking power away from the community (such as disbanding WARC and the independent CRA), while my goal is to empower the SET and the residents who live there.
5. The topic of “development” permeates political dialogue in Delray. How would you define what “development” means and what the Commission can do to ensure that it benefits Delray citizens?
We need to stop using “development” as a catch-all term to manipulate voters. The City Commission’s job is to best represent residents while closely following our city’s governing documents, respecting owner’s property rights, and promoting a unified vision for Delray’s future. The Commission should focus on managing Delray’s success. As people continue to move to our city, a responsible commission would plan for that growth. Otherwise, we’re simply reacting to it without a cohesive plan. There are ways to address affordable housing, reduce traffic, attract young families, while simultaneously preserving our history, keeping sensible height limits, and maintaining Delray’s village charm. Doing this however, takes nuanced conversations with data and professionals, not political posturing and fear-mongering. When presented with an option to educate residents about the rights of property owners, my opponent voted against it. It’s my goal to collaborate with residents and make sure they are included in the process going forward.
6. The lease for Old Square was terminated without advance notice or public input. Do you agree with the decision? Why or why not?
I do not. The decision to terminate OSS’s lease was deliberately done without community input and without an alternative plan. My opponent’s vote to terminate is symbolic of her incompetence and general apathy towards Delray residents. The issues with OSS’s financial reporting could’ve and should’ve been resolved amicably. The CRA was not awarding any funds to OSS during the year the lease was terminated, so it was no burden to taxpayers. Now, it’s potentially an over $3 Million burden to all of us. Additionally, we’re left with partially opened facilities and a lawsuit that further burdens taxpayers and hurts Delray’s reputation. 11,000 people signed a petition to ask the Commissioners to reconsider this vote, it was ignored. It’s clear this decision was made based on political retribution and not on what’s best for Delray Beach residents. We deserve better.