By Paul Blythe
Only 17 of Palm Beach County's 39 cities, towns and villages held elections Tuesday, primarily because more than a dozen municipalities' government races were automatically settled because of a lack of challengers.
Of those with elections, four were in north Palm Beach County: Tequesta, Juno Beach, Lake Park and Palm Beach Shores.
Because municipal elections are nonpartisan, it's hard to know how Democrats fared, but progressive causes appeared to take some hits in a few areas, with candidates supporting sugar cane burning winning in the Glades and bond issues for recreational or environmental land use losing in Tequesta, although another bond issue for parks won in Delray Beach.
Here is our take on noteworthy trends, as well as the results of all Palm Beach County's municipal elections:
Big Sugar wins in Belle Glade
Two Belle Glade candidates who aligned themselves with sugar companies in opposing efforts to stop sugarcane burning won their seats: Zayteck Marin in the Seat A race and incumbent Mayor Steve Wilson in the Seat B race.
In her campaign, Marin used the sugar companies' argument that switching from sugarcane burning to using cleaner mechanical sugarcane harvesting would kill jobs, according to The Palm Beach Post. Wilson advocated for a new state law to protect sugar farming companies from lawsuits based on sugarcane burning pollution.
Marin defeated Stanley Highsmith, a U.S. Army veteran. Wilson defeated Robert Mitchell, founder of the Muck City United nonprofit.
With no one taking more than 50 percent of the vote in Boynton Beach's District 2 race, the race is heading to a runoff and it includes an incumbent candidate friendly to Democratic positions.
In Boynton Beach, City Commissioner Woodrow Hay and former City Commissioner Mack McCray, the top two votegetters, will face off in a runoff. McCray was leading with 42 percent of the vote to Hay's 36 percent. Two other candidates in the race will not continue further.
CORRECTION UPDATE: An earlier version of this post said a runoff was also possible in Lake Park. That was incorrect. Although no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in Lake Park, the town's election policy since 2010 has been that the candidate with the most votes wins the election, regardless of whether the candidate has a majority, Town Clerk Vivian Mendez said Wednesday. That means Lake Worth Middle School science teacher Judith Thomas won with 49 percent of the vote, defeating real estate agent Patricia Leduc with 31 percent and U.S. Army veteran Rafael Moscoso with 20 percent.
Hay, Thomas and Leduc are all Democratic friends.
Bond issues for parks win in Delray, lose in Tequesta
Voters in Delray Beach overwhelmingly approved a bond issue of as much as $20 million to pay for improvements to their city parks, while voters in Tequesta rejected by almost as strong a margin a referendum that would have allowed the village to issue bonds of as much as $10 million for recreational capital improvements or to buy environmentally sensitive, waterfront, or recreation lands, or lands for open spaces, archeological or historic preservation, or traffic mitigation.
In Delray Beach, the city parks bond issue was supported by nearly 63 percent of those voting Tuesday. Delray voters also approved a $100 million bond issue for renovating and equipping the city's police and fire stations with the support of 61 percent of the voters.
Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of Tequesta voters rejected their village's more open-ended question about whether the village should be able to issue bonds from time to time for recreational purposes or to purchase land for its residents' use.
Tequesta also voted on six other referenda -- four that were election related, one on whether any future consideration of dissolving or outsourcing the police or fire departments had to be submitted to a referendum and one a "housekeeping" question to allow the village to clean up archaic and unclear language in its charter. Two lost: Question 1, which would have increased village councilmembers' terms of office from two years to three years; and Question 3, which would have allowed the village to eliminate runoff elections for resolving election ties and instead draw lots to choose winners in the case of ties.
Tequesta's Question 1 narrowly lost, with 330 voting No to 324 voting yes. That is 50.46 percent to 49.54 percent, or a difference of 0.92 percent. But an automatic recount in Florida requires a difference of half a percent or less.
Question 3, on the other hand, lost big, with two-thirds of those voting Tuesday saying No to resolving election ties by drawing lots.
See the results of Tequesta's other referenda and all of Palm Beach County's municipal elections below:
NORTH COUNTY MUNICIPALITIES
LAKE PARK TOWN COMMISSION
Patricia Leduc 141 30.99%
Rafael Moscoso 91 20.00%
> Judith Thomas 223 49.01%
JUNO BEACH TOWN COUNCIL
> Marianne Hosta 633 55.92%