Thursday, May 23, 2024

County Campaign War Chests Grow, Mayor Glickstein Helps Host a Rally

Councilman Robert Weinroth has won the first round of head-to-head fundraising against Mayor Susan Haynie.

According to campaign finance reports, Weinroth received $17,406 in January compared to $16,535 for Haynie. The former allies on the Boca Raton City Council are competing for the District 4 seat on the Palm Beach County Commission after Weinroth withdrew on the final day of qualifying for reelection to Seat D on the council.

“I would like to have done better,” Weinroth told me, “but it’s a whole new ballgame now.” Rather than the nonpartisan format of city races, Haynie is running as a Republican and Weinroth as a Democrat. “And the runway is much longer.”

The election isn’t until November, which means that most of the electorate won’t start paying attention until September.

Weinroth could argue that the totals reflect better on his campaign since he got in so late. Haynie announced last October. At that time, she didn’t have an opponent.

Haynie, however, then was the subject of a critical Palm Beach Post article. It concerned a contract her husband’s company had with the master association of a condo complex in which Boca Raton’s largest private property owners—James and Marta Batmasian—own 80 percent of the units.

The headline referred to “secret financial ties.” Haynie received an advisory ruling from the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics that she could vote on issues affecting the Batmasians. The opinion request, though, did not mention the Batmasians or Haynie. BocaWatch publisher Al Zucaro, whom Haynie defeated in last year’s mayoral election, has filed complaints with the county and state ethics commissions.

So the fact that Haynie came in second, by whatever margin, could indicate that the controversy remains a drag on her campaign. Or it could be that, because her kickoff didn’t happen until Jan. 31, some donations came too late for this report.

Weinroth had raised more than $100,000 for his reelection campaign, but he couldn’t transfer that money to the county commission race. This first report shows donations from some individuals in Boca Raton who had contributed to his council race, but not money from other regular donors who had committed to Haynie and appear to be sticking with her. The Dunay Miskel & Backman law firm is one example.

Both candidates, however, will be seeking donations from outside the city and even outside the county, given the scope of the commission’s business. Assuming both stay in the race and neither has a primary, each will need about $200,000 in direct money to run a strong campaign. In that scenario, fundraising over the next four months will matter more than fundraising in January.

Haynie and Weinroth also will compete for endorsements. Those will break down mostly into two groups: labor unions—firefighters, law enforcement, government employees—and business organizations such as the Economic Council of Palm Beach County and the various chambers of commerce. The Greater Boca Chamber of Commerce endorsed both when they ran separately. Now the chamber will have to choose.

City and county politics have featured many elections that matched longtime rivals. Rarely, though, have onetime allies—and friends—opposed each other and on such short notice. That dynamic will make it one of the most interesting campaigns in the county on any level.

(Pictured above, Councilman Robert Weinroth and Mayor Susan Haynie)

Glickstein finds a way to rally

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein got a call Sunday afternoon from an event organizer.

The students who had rallied at the Broward County Courthouse in support of gun control after the mass murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School wanted to hold their next event in Delray Beach. The proposed site was the south county courthouse on West Atlantic Avenue.

Glickstein saw potential problems. So did Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman. Social media tracking indicated that the crowd could top 1,000. If that had happened, Glickstein said Tuesday, the rally could have spilled onto Atlantic Avenue and caused problems even on a public holiday: Presidents Day.

Fortunately, Delray had a good backup location: City Hall. The building was closed because of the holiday, and the street—Northwest First Avenue—was closed because of the Delray Beach Open next door at the tennis center. Because of that event, the city already had first responders on duty in the area.

Goldman and City Manager Mark Lauzier made it happen. The crowd actually was a little larger than the first estimates, Glickstein said, but there were no incidents. U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel spoke. Like them, Glickstein is a Democrat, but he said the best speakers were the students who were not partisan.

School shootings, Glickstein said, “don’t affect just Democratic or Republican children. Most of the students didn’t talk about labels.” Today, students are scheduled to rally in Tallahassee. One hopes that the Legislature, usually in thrall to the National Rifle Association, will listen.

And then act.

Education Task Force

Last week, the Boca Raton City Council chose the seven members of the education task force. The council created the panel when school crowding became an issue.

Three members—Don Rogers, Dara Siegel and Andy Thomson—got votes from all five council members. All are lawyers.

Rogers is an assistant state attorney general who long has been involved with Boca Raton High School. Siegel is in private practice, has a child in the public schools and has worked on education policy. Thomson also is in private practice and said on his application that his family is on track to have children simultaneously in elementary school, middle school and high school. Thomson ran unsuccessfully for the city council last March.

The other panel members are: Annmarie Dilbert, principal of Crosspointe Elementary west of Boynton Beach; Yvette Drucker, who is on the board of Florence Fuller Child Development and has served on several leading civic groups; Stacy Jenkins, a marketing representative who has two degrees from Florida Atlantic University and has two children in the public schools; and Thomas Zeichman, an attorney who earned his undergraduate degree at FAU.

At this point, the board is to last for a year, effective March 31. Council members, though, have said they might extend the panel’s term.

Interestingly, only one applicant made a point of claiming that overdevelopment is the main cause of school crowding, even though it isn’t. She got support from Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke, who has advanced the same theory, but she didn’t get majority support.

Art in Public Places Board

Also at last Tuesday’s meeting the council chose Boca Raton’s first Art in Public Places board. The members are Peg Anderson, Andrea Doyle, Emily Gentile, Robyn Hoffberger, Irvin Lippman, Deborah Sponder-Levin and Amber Tollefson.

The members will help the city promote art as a component of public and private spaces. The issue is more complicated than it sounds. Example: Who is responsible for maintaining artwork and moving it, say, when a hurricane approaches?

All the members are passionate about the subject. They will have good professional guidance. Doyle is director of development for Boca Ballet Theater and Lippman is executive director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

And a note

Let the record show that Councilwoman O’Rourke voted to put her two opponents last year on these new boards: Gentile to art in public places and Thomson to education.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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