The newest mayor of Palm Beach County’s newest city doesn’t live there, and he’s not sure he will move there even after taking the oath of office.
But Roger Manning, who lives in unincorporated Lake Worth and has run a printing business there for more than 30 years, said he is looking forward to serving as Westlake’s inaugural mayor.
Nothing about Westlake’s founding has been standard, and Manning, 62, didn’t become mayor by kissing babies and earning votes.
He said he was asked to serve as the infant city’s mayor by John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, the builder that plans to construct 4,500 homes and develop 2.2 million square feet of commercial space in an area of The Acreage that is largely fields and groves.
Carter and Manning serve as board members for the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.
Minto is the largest landowner in Westlake and supports its incorporation, much to the chagrin of area residents, who don’t want the hustle and bustle they believe the developer will bring to their quiet area.
County officials who endured intense criticism two years ago when they worked with Minto to set limits on the size of the development – only to have Minto support an incorporation that could open the door to even more development – aren’t thrilled, either.
County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, whose district includes Westlake, has called Minto “greedy” and said it’s backing of incorporation was “a dishonest business practice.”
In an exclusive interview with The Palm Beach Post on Thursday, Manning said he is aware of the frustration surrounding Westlake’s start as a city.
“Some things are shocking for a start, but, once people work together, things can work out,” Manning said.
Manning said his decision to stand as mayor wasn’t a snap choice. He said he visited the area and determined that it could use much of what Minto plans to bring.
“There is a real need for services in that area,” he said. “The area looks like it needs more services.”