At their last regular meeting, Clewiston City Commissioners voted 4-0 to nominate Kristine Petersen to the commission, filling the seat left vacant after former commissioner Rick Miller stepped down in January.
“I believe she [Petersen] has the heart to serve this community,” said Commissioner Mali Gardner, who made the motion to nominate Petersen at the Feb. 17 meeting.
Commissioner Gardner spoke highly of Petersen when asked about her nomination, saying she has known Petersen for many years and has always been appreciative of Petersen’s dedication to the communities she has served.
Petersen worked at the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office in the 1980s and also served as assistant police chief at the Clewiston Police Department for many years. Now, Petersen works at Clewiston High School (CHS) as the adviser for the Explorer Program, which gives students interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of such a career first-hand.
“Petersen is a woman of character and integrity who has served this community over the years and has proven herself a dedicated leader,” said Commissioner Gardner.
With four out of four votes in Petersen’s favor, Commissioner Gardner was not the only official to praise Petersen and the potential she will bring to the table.
“I thought Kristine Petersen was a good choice for several reasons,” began Commissioner Julio Rodriguez, who seconded Commissioner Gardner’s motion to appoint Petersen. “She’s been in this community for a long time. She worked at the police department for quite a while, and she works in the schools with the drug programs and things like that. … I think she’s going to be fine.”
Commissioner Rodriguez revealed that Petersen plans to run in the next regular election and said the interim position will be good insight and experience for her before she runs in November.
Mayor Phillip Roland weighed in on Petersen’s nomination, saying Petersen was a hard worker and anticipates good things from her, especially from a project perspective.
“She’s put together programs at the school, and when she worked for the police department she put together programs. For instance, the memorial area in the park is a big thing … and maybe Kristine will take that on,” said Mayor Roland, eluding to the proposed memorial park the students of CHS’s Explorer Program intend to organize. “I think all the commissioners should really have things they want to accomplish and have goals, and I’m sure Kristine will have that, so that’s exciting for me.”
As far as the commission as a whole is concerned, both Mayor Roland and Commissioner Rodriguez feel Petersen will add cohesiveness to the group.
“I hope to have a unified commission that’s working for the benefit of the city. I’m sure Kristine will do that. … I don’t think there’s any negatives with Kristine and that’s a really good thing,” said Mayor Roland.
Commissioner Rodriguez added that Petersen will be a good addition to the commission as it moves forward and looks towards the future.
“[Petersen’s nomination] is good as we move forward. We have to get back to working together and making decisions together for the betterment of our city. We all have our own minds and we all make our own decisions, but at the end of the day it has to be the best decision for the city of Clewiston and the residents of the city — that’s our job, and to make sure the citizens of Clewiston have a good quality of life,” said Commissioner Rodriguez.
Petersen was reticent and did not divulge much about her nomination or her feelings about it.
“I’m low key. I’m just going to try to do my best,” said Petersen.
Petersen was sworn in as commissioner after the last city commission meeting on Feb. 17 and will formally take her oath at the next meeting, to be held on March 17 in the Clewiston city commission chambers at 5 p.m.