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%
Michael Moll 312 27.56%
Aldo Rovere 187 16.52%
QUESTION 1, CITIZEN INITIATIVE
Shall the town charter be amended to provide that town voters shall elect the mayor directly for a 2-year term instead of the current method of having the town council appoint one councilmember to serve as mayor annually? (If approved, the election of the mayor would begin with the March 2024 municipal election.)
> YES 828 76.31%
NO 257 23.69%
PALM BEACH SHORES TOWN COMMISSION
(VOTE FOR 2)
Janet Kortenhaus (i) 165 27.87%
> Tracy Larcher (i) 256 43.24%
> Mark Ward 171 28.89%
VILLAGE OF TEQUESTA
BOND QUESTION, FOR LAND ACQUISITION
Shall Tequesta issue bonds in phases from time to time, not to exceed a total of $10 million, maturing within 20 years of their issuance dates, with interest not to exceed the maximum legal rate, payable from property taxes levied in amounts sufficient to pay debt service on such bonds, to finance acquisition of environmentally sensitive, waterfront, or recreation lands, or lands for open spaces, archeological or historic preservation, or traffic mitigation, and recreational capital improvements?
YES 257 39.54%
> NO 393 60.46%
QUESTION 1, 3-YEAR TERMS & TERM LIMITS
Shall the Tequesta charter be amended to increase councilmember terms from 2 years to 3 years, and to add new term limits of 3 consecutive terms, thereafter requiring a 1-term waiting period before running for office again?
YES 324 49.54%
> NO 330 50.46%
QUESTION 2, 1-YEAR RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR ELECTION
Shall the Tequesta charter be amended to require any candidate for the office of councilmember to have resided in the village for at least one continuous year prior to being eligible to qualify to run for the office?
> YES 629 96.18%
NO 25 3.82%
QUESTION 3, DRAWING LOTS TO RESOLVE COUNCIL ELECTION TIES
Shall the Tequesta charter be amended to eliminate the requirement for runoff elections to resolve tie votes for candidates for councilmember office and to instead provide for the drawing of lots to resolves ties?
YES 219 33.90%
> NO 427 66.10%
QUESTION 4, TEMPORARY APPOINTMENTS FOR COUNCIL VACANCIES
Shall the Tequesta charter be amended to eliminate the requirement for a special election to fill a vacancy on the council caused by death, resignation, removal from office or failure to qualify; and to instead allow a temporary village council appointment until the next general election?
> YES 333 51.23%
NO 317 48.77%
QUESTION 5, REQUIRING REFERENDUM TO DISSOLVE POLICE, FIRE AGENCIES
Shall the Tequesta charter be amended to require voter approval through a referendum prior to any village council consideration of dissolving, abolishing or outsourcing the village police department or fire-rescue department?
> YES 596 91.83%
NO 53 8.17%
QUESTION 6, CHARTER CLARIFICATION & ORGANIZATION
Shall the Tequesta charter be amended to provide non-substantive text edits, internal consistency, general language clarification and organization in accordance with Ordinance 12-22, passed and adopted by the Village Council on July 14, 2022?
> YES 467 74.24%
NO 162 25.76%
ATLANTIS CITY COUNCIL
> Michael LaCoursiere (i) 323 83.90%
Paul Mozen 62 16.10%
BELLE GLADE CITY COMMISION
Stanley D. Highsmith 587 41.69%
> Zayteck Marin 821 58.31%
Robert C. Mitchell 325 23.23% > Steve B. Wilson (i) 1,074 76.77%
QUESTION 1, CHANGING TERM LENGTH
Shall the term of office for the mayor and city council members be changed from its current 3-year length to 4 years? (If adopted, the terms beginning March 2023 would expire March 2027, and, for transition purposes, the terms expiring March 2024 would be extended by one year and would expire March 2025. The amendment would not change the current two-term limit.)
YES 2,709 40.74%
> NO 3,941 59.26%
BOYNTON BEACH CITY COMMISSION
* Woodrow L. Hay (i) 299 36.24%
Joe Josemond 151 18.30%
* Mack McCray 347 42.06%
Bernard Wright 28 3.39%
Danny Ferrell 88 9.21%
> Aimee Kelley (i) 617 64.54%
Tom Ramiccio 251 26.26%
DELRAY BEACH CITY COMMISSION
Juli Casale (i) 3,268 47.27%
> Rob Long 3,645 52.73%
> Angela D. Burn 3,508 51.57%
Angie Gray 3,295 48.43%
QUESTION 1, GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
Shall the city issue bonds to finance the renovation and equipping of the police headquarters and fire stations within the city in a principal amount not to exceed $100 million, bearing interest not exceeding the legal rate, maturing not more than 30 years from the date of issuance, payable from property taxes levied by the city on all taxable property in the city?
> YES 4,048 60.96%
NO 2,592 39.04%
QUESTION 2, GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS FOR PUBLIC PARKS
Shall the city issue bonds to finance improvements to Catherine Strong, Miller, and other city parks in a principal amount not to exceed $20 million, bearing interest not to exceed the legal rate, maturing not more than 30 years from the date of issuance, payable from property taxes levied by the city on all taxable property in the city?
> YES 4,114 62.85%
NO 2,432 37.15%
HIGHLAND BEACH TOWN COMMISSION
> Don Peters 452 53.43%
John Shoemaker (i) 394 46.57%
1-YEAR UNEXPIRED TERM
Maggie Chappelear 256 30.15%
> Judith M. Goldberg 434 51.12%
Peter Kosovsky 159 18.73%
HYPOLUXO TOWN COUNCIL
(VOTE FOR 3)
> Bob Leupp (i) 156 25.41%
John B. Sochacki 76 12.38%
> Brad Doyle (i) 129 21.01%
Jim Deery 103 16.78%
> Linda Allen (i) 150 24.43%
LAKE CLARKE SHORES TOWN COUNCIL
Paul R. Shalhoub (i) 372 41.33%
> Jon Maples 528 58.67%
LANTANA TOWN COUNCIL
Raymond Lastella 394 44.47%
> Mark Zeitler (i) 492 55.53%
> Christopher Castle 472 53.64%
John A. Raymer 408 46.36%
Shall the Lantana town charter be amended to change the method of electing council members from majority vote to plurality vote, such that the candidate who receives the most votes, regardless of whether it is a majority, shall be deemed elected?
> YES 508 59.55%
NO 345 40.45%
MANGONIA PARK TOWN COUNCIL
> Lisa Davis-Quince 57 61.29%
Edward E. Smith (i) 36 38.71%
OCEAN RIDGE TOWN COMMISSION
(VOTE FOR 2)
> Carolyn Cassidy 532 50.33%
Susan H. Hurlburt (i) 248 23.46%
> Martin Wiescholek (i) 277 26.21%
PALM SPRINGS VILLAGE COUNCIL
> Joni S. Brinkman 288 68.41%
Alberto Jordat Jr. 133 31.59%
SOUTH BAY CITY COMMISSION
> Esther E. Berry (i) 230 52.15%
John Brockman 211 47.85%
Barbara King 197 44.17%
> Taranza McKelvin (i) 249 55.83%
> Albert "Church Boy" Polk IV 353 79.50%
George Sandiford 91 20.50%
Sources: Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections and The Palm Beach Post.