Hi, I am Cara Jennings, Commissioner District 2 in the City of Lake Worth.

I am running for re-election because I believe:

Lake Worth Pier
our electric utility needs improvement and rates must be competitive
public safety is a top priority
our beach and parks must be protected
government must be accountable, responsive and transparent

I pledge that I will continue to work for you inside City Hall, fighting for safe neighborhoods, fiscal responsibility and improved city services.

I am asking for your vote on November 4th.

Cara's Victories

Cara's Vision for Lake Worth

Latest News

  • 17Sep

    Palm Beach Post - Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Lake Worth commission rejects campaign donations ethics rule

    By TONY DORIS Staff Writer

    LAKE WORTH - The city commission shot down an ethics proposal Tuesday night that would have banned bidders on city contracts from making campaign contributions to commissioners voting on the contracts.

    Despite a plea from sponsor Cara Jennings that the ordinance would be a first step toward limiting influence of political money on contract votes, only one of the other four commissioners sided with her, Jo-Ann Golden.

    The three opponents - Mayor Jeff Clemens and Commissioners Retha Lowe and David Vespo - said the proposal needed work. But rather than pass it on first reading Tuesday, which would have let them address concerns though a workshop or blue ribbon panel before giving it final consideration, they rejected the measure outright.

    Under the proposed ordinance, similar to ethics laws enacted in New Jersey, Georgia and in a handful of Florida communities, any business under contract with the city, or intending to be under contract, would be prohibited from making donations to commission candidates or political action committees related to city issues.

    “I’m all for campaign reform and strong ethics, but this reeks of politics,” Vespo said. He suggested that Jennings might have little support from businesses, so she was trying to keep her opponent from gathering corporate contributions, too.

    He also warned that the contribution ban could set the city up for a lawsuit. “I don’t want to spend taxpayers’ money on something that doesn’t on the face of it pass the smell test.”

    Lowe said the proposal would have benefited from more public input.

    Clemens said potential effects of the proposal needed to be addressed. For instance, if someone who wants to unseat a contractor can contribute, Clemens asked, isn’t it right to let the contractor contribute, as well?

    He added that he felt “trepidation” at the thought of the board members deciding how they may collect contributions, rather than a panel of experts weighing the matter.

    The board reached an informal consensus afterward (to) discuss the issue in a workshop, but Jennings dismissed that as cover for voting down an ethics ordinance.

    Having a workshop on ethics has been proposed for more than a year to no effect, she said.

    As for complaints that the proposal needed work, she said: “They’ve had a copy of this ordinance since June. If anyone legitimately had issues and wanted them to be resolved, they’ve had three months.”

  • 16Sep

    Palm Beach Post - Monday, September 15, 2008

    Anti-’Pay-to-play’ law proposed for Lake Worth

    By TONY DORIS Staff Writer

    LAKE WORTH — Companies competing for city contracts would face a ban on political contributions to commissioners, under an ethics ordinance up for initial review Tuesday night.

    City Commissioner Cara Jennings said she proposed the ban, based on laws in place around the country, to prevent individuals, companies or their subsidiaries from trying to skew contract votes by putting money in campaign coffers.

    The Lake Worth ordinance would prohibit any business that’s under contract, or intending to be under contract with the city, from making donations to commission candidate campaigns or political action committees. Part of the city contracting procedure will be for bidders to fill out a form declaring any donations they made; to be eligible to win the contract, the bidder would have to get the contribution refunded.

    Jennings said the issue arose several months ago, when Southern Waste Systems and a number of related companies contributed $1,000 to at least one commissioner’s campaign, while Southern was vying for a city contract.

    West Palm Beach enacted an ethics code last year, after convictions of two city commissioners and accusations that a pay-to-play atmosphere permeated the administration of Mayor Lois Frankel.

    The Lake Worth law would be one of the first of its kind in the state, said Ben Wilcox, executive director of Common Cause Florida, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization. Wilcox, who Jennings consulted in drafting the ordinance, said that both Georgia and New Jersey have enacted similar bans, at the state legislative level.

    Federal law bans contributions by corporations and unions, he said.

    The commission several months ago rejected an effort by Jennings to initiate a policy of voluntary disclosure by candidates or commissioners who accepted contributions from bidders, she said. As a result, she researched and found that other cities and states had enacted contribution bans, such as the one she is now proposing.

    Lake Worth’s proposed ordinance would not let commissioners merely recuse themselves from votes, if they’d taken a contribution from a bidder or related company.

    “We’re trying to completely pre-empt ‘pay-to-play,’ ” Jennings said.

    The proposal has the backing of at least one other member of the five-person commission, Jo-Ann Golden. “I don’t see how anyone could be against it,” Golden said.

  • 15Sep

    Lake Worth FL - September 15, 2008 - Commissioner Cara Jennings has authored and introduced a new anti-pay-to-play ethics ordinance for approval by the Lake Worth City Commission. On Tuesday at 6:00PM, the Commission will vote on the only known ordinance of its kind in Florida that prohibits donations to political campaigns by individuals or corporate entities that have, or will have, projects coming before the Commission for approval. The Florida Attorney General has reviewed the ordinance without comment; the Lake Worth City Attorney confirms that it is not pre-empted by State statutes.

    “Watchdog groups throughout Florida are monitoring this vote. Pubic corruption would be greatly lessened if governmental bodies were to enact more stringent ethical standards for both those seeking election and those already in office. The recent convictions of two PB County Commissioners and two WPB City Commissioners for criminal usage of their official positions, has prompted me to author and introduce this precedent setting anti-pay-to-play ethics ordinance ever to reach a City Commission for approval. In my opinion, it will keep the contributions from out-of-town developers and the multiple $500 contributions from their shadow corporations from having an improper, corrupting influence on the votes of those candidates whose Commission seats they have financed,” notes Commissioner Jennings.

    Cara Jennings
    Lake Worth City Commissioner District 2

  • 20Aug

    Lake Worth FL - August 20, 2008 - Cara Jennings, Commissioner District 2, City of Lake Worth, announces her campaign for re-election. A popular grass-roots candidate, Ms. Jennings won the Commission seat in March 2006 by taking 61.7% of the vote.

    Well known for demanding transparency in government, Commissioner Jennings has been publicly noted for her studious approach to each City Commission meeting and her conscientious commitment to Lake Worth.

    “Taking a stand for what is right and pursuing the most logical course for Lake Worth has been and will remain my purpose on the City Commission,” states Commissioner Jennings.

    Ms. Jennings will debate the issues at a series of neighborhood gatherings to be announced.

    Cara Jennings
    Lake Worth City Commissioner District 2