In Boca election news…
Boca Raton finally had something close to a real election.
More than 11,000 voters cast ballots Tuesday in the mayoral race, which Susan Haynie won convincingly over Anthony Majhess: 57 percent to 43 percent. That ballot count is more than 60 percent above the total in the 2012 election and more than double the total in 2011. There also was minimal drop-off in the votes for city council seats B and D, which Michael Mullaugh and Robert Weinroth won.
Granted, turnout remained low even for a non-presidential state election, but Haynie can claim widespread support for her campaign platform of “smart” development and fiscal conservatism. Precinct-by-precinct totals aren’t available yet, but Rick Asnani, Haynie’s campaign consultant, said the incoming mayor went after votes in all 50 precincts, even in the Golden Triangle neighborhood where Majhess lives. Asnani said the campaign had hoped for an eight-point victory, given the field support Majhess would have from the firefighters union, since Majhess is a Palm Beach County firefighter.
Because of the union’s organizing ability, conventional wisdom was that Majhess would win the absentees. Instead, Haynie came out ahead in absentees and at the polls. Among other things, Asnani credits TV ads before the absentee voting period that stressed Haynie’s long record of service on the city council and community involvement. Many absentee ballots went to first-time voters in a city election, and Asnani believes that they were more receptive to a positive message than an attack.
To further offset the union’s presence, Haynie held what Asnani said were “many” community meet-and-greets. Such settings naturally lend themselves more to a candidate’s personality, on which Haynie wanted voters to focus. In addition, the Haynie campaign apparently neutralized Majhess’ main theme: that Haynie has been too pro-development. Mailers noted that Majhess had voted— along with Haynie—for some of the more controversial projects in the city.
Finally, Haynie got a big financial boost at the end. The latest filings showed that Haynie had raised another $34,000, compared to roughly $12,000 for Majhess. Still, each candidate raised serious money for a city election. Haynie will take office with a like-minded council and the chance to show that “smart” development will pay off for Boca Raton.
And in Delray…
Since Mullaugh and Weinroth won their races by at least 20 points, there was no drama in Boca Raton. That was not true in Delray Beach.
In Seat 4, Jordana Jarjura easily beat incumbent Angeleta Gray and two other challengers. Gray suffered from her record of favoring businesses over residents and a recent Palm Beach Post story about a Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office investigation of her business. The Seat 2 result, however, had the loser calling an attorney.
Chris Davey had been leading incumbent Al Jacquet by nearly 300 votes with just two precincts not reporting. Then results from Precinct 7200 came in. That is Pompey Park in the city’s historically black neighborhood. Jacquet is black, and the Davey campaign had assumed that Jacquet would get a very high percentage.
His problem, Davey said in an interview, is that by 4:30 only 117 votes had been cast in Precinct 7200. In the last two-and-a-half hours, more than double that number supposedly turned out. Davey went from that lead to trailing by a handful. Yet on the supervisor of elections website, Davey and his supporters said Wednesday, the number of precincts reporting didn’t change. Davey wound up losing by 365 votes.
Davey went Tuesday night to the supervisor’s facility in Riviera Beach, where votes are counted. Also there was Delray Beach City Clerk Chevelle Nubin. Cities run elections, but the supervisor’s office counts the ballots. The story Davey says he got is that the cartridge with Precinct 7200’s results was mistakenly taken to an elections office in Lake Park, not the one in Delray Beach.
“I want some answers,” Davey said in an interview, saying he got none from his meeting with elections supervisor, Susan Bucher. One question he has concerns the pollworker who supposedly took the fateful cartridge to the wrong place.
Another election in Palm Beach County, another election controversy. The Delray Beach City Commission is supposed to certify the results tonight. Since key special interests in Delray very much wanted Jacquet to win, someone better provide credible answers to Davey’s questions.
About the Author
Randy Schultz was born in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1974. He has lived in South Florida since then, and in Boca Raton since 1985. Schultz spent nearly 40 years in daily journalism at the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post, most recently as editorial page editor at the Post. His wife, Shelley, is director of The Learning Network at Pine Crest School. His son, an attorney, and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren also live in Boca Raton. His daughter is a veterinarian who lives in Baltimore.