“It’s the friendliness of the people,” he says. Stuart City Commissioner and former Mayor Troy McDonald is referring to the reason he’s stayed in the area for 15 years now.
The Toledo, Ohio, native first moved to Florida in 1994, and relocated to Stuart in 1995.
“Within a few weeks everyone knew who I was,” McDonald recalls. Struck by the small-town hospitality, he stayed. And he built his career around giving back to his adopted community.
Witham Field was the initial draw. McDonald was the general manager for Aviation Center Inc., now Galaxy Aviation, and was charged with overseeing the Stuart airport.
Upon leaving aviation in 1998, McDonald decided to start his own business. Duces Tekum Process Serving Inc., of which McDonald is president, aids the legal system by serving documents to the appropriate parties.
While McDonald always had an interest in politics and local government, it wasn’t until 2010 that he would become actively involved. His wife, Portia, is a Stuart native, which spurred him to follow the city’s progress and development. When Stuart City Commissioner Carol Waxler decided not to run in 2010, McDonald joined the election campaign. The race resulted in a three-way tie – McDonald won the seat in 2011.
This would mark the start of four years as a city commissioner and the election as mayor for 2014. Kelli Leighton, the former vice mayor, was recently elected mayor for 2015. McDonald is proud of his role in maintaining Stuart as a tight-knit community while encouraging cultivated growth. “I’m happy to see that we’ve helped keep the balance,” he says, referring to the city’s approach to big growth versus no growth.
There are other initiatives in which McDonald played a role during his tenure. His “Shop Local Shop Smart” action encourages people to buy from local vendors to support small businesses in the area. He has worked on an energy-efficient rebate program for building permit fees, providing incentive to use environmentally friendly products in construction projects.
And he has worked on an issue near and dear to every Stuart resident’s heart: the St. Lucie River. “The most rewarding and challenging is advocacy for the river,” McDonald says.
The crowning accomplishment involves something slightly farther from the city shores. McDonald has a great passion for travel – he proposed to his now wife in New Zealand, and the two were married in Fiji. So when he was given the opportunity to partner with the Bahamas, he jumped at the chance. Stuart and Hope Town in the Abacos islands were made sister cities. A contingent from the Bahamas came to Stuart, and he visited Hope Town in return. The two work together to promote tourism in both cities.
McDonald has settled into life in Martin County. He and his wife have two dogs, and his office building sits on the water in the middle of downtown. Yes, life in this small town certainly has its appeal. And he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.