By Michele Dargan, Special to the Civic Association. More than 150 people packed into Nick and Johnnie’s restaurant Monday to hear many of the candidates on the November 8 Palm Beach ballot make their case to voters.
The “Meet Your Candidates” forum was sponsored by the Palm Beach Civic Association and the Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach.
The event was sold out and waitlisted for days. The two organizations held a similar program prior to the August primary election.
Civic Association President Ned Barnes welcomed the overflow crowd and reminded them that it wasn’t a debate. Each candidate was allowed up to three minutes to speak and there would be no rebuttals and no questions. Mr. Barnes and Don Singer, first vice chairman of the Citizen’s Association, moderated the event.
“We’re glad so many Palm Beachers showed up for our candidates’ Meet and Greet,” Mr. Barnes said. “Town residents take their voting responsibilities very seriously and the Civic Association is committed to helping them make informed decisions at the polls on election day.”
Fifteen candidates spoke about their qualifications and what they would do if elected.
Keith Beaty, a Civic Association director, described the program as “very valuable” in making an informed voting decision. “It’s a chance to meet and see the candidates in person,” Mr. Beaty said. “They don’t have a lot of time, so you don’t get a lot of in-depth knowledge of them, but it forces them to hit their high points, which is good. It’s an efficient way to see how they speak, learn a little bit more about their platform and, also, see how well they do in the presentation format. I think the Civic Association and the Citizens’ Association do a great service to the community by having these.”
In addition to the candidates, Todd Bonlarron, an assistant county administrator, gave an overview of the five ballot questions. Joseph Rooney, acting president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, and Fred Scheibl, of the Palm Beach County Taxpayer Action Board, gave their differing perspectives on the countywide proposal to increase the sales tax by one percent. Rooney is for the tax and Scheibl is against it.
U.S. House of Representatives, District 21
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D) is a former West Palm Beach mayor and a familiar face to Palm Beach voters. She currently represents District 22, but is running for the newly redrawn, all-Palm Beach County, District 21 seat.
Rep. Frankel, who described herself as half-Brooklyn, half-Bronx, reminded attendees that she has helped Palm Beach with important issues, particularly the proposed dredging of the Port of Palm Beach.
“I put the finger in the dike for the last four years,” she said. “I said to them, ‘the community is not for this and we cannot go forward until we get some consensus.’"
“I don’t care whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all have to work together,” she said. “I’ll help you with the port. I’ll help you with the beach. I’m going to be on your side.”
Her Republican opponent, businessman and political newcomer Paul Spain, said he is in the campaign to “make sure we abide by the rule of law, have economic growth, create jobs, protect the environment and work with other countries to make sure this world is a better place for our children and grandchildren to live … I will bring jobs to this county, not refugees to Palm Beach County.”
Mr. Spain said he would work to reduce “bloated budgets” on the federal and local levels. He advocates holding governments accountable by having them justify programs that they already have before allotting them more money to spend on new programs.
State Senate, District 30
Republican Ron Berman, a businessman and an attorney, said his goal is to make the community a better place for the next generations. He described himself as a problem solver.
His two goals: bring vocational training back into high schools and get better mental healthcare treatment for those who need it.
“We have common problems, forget politics,” he said. “We all want more kids graduating high school. We want less unemployment, less people on government assistance, less crime, less drugs, less people incarcerated and healthier citizens physically and mentally.”
Democrat Bobby Powell has served in the Florida House of Representatives, District 88 for the past four years. Mr. Powell said he has experience in the legislature in bringing people together.
Mr. Powell said he has experience with budget issues and making sure money is allocated for infrastructure improvements to Palm Beach and Palm Beach County.
“I promise you will have someone who is a voice for your community,” he said. “A life of service is a life that counts … Serving starts when you see people in need and you decide to put yourself behind and put other people ahead.”
Among other candidates who spoke were: Luis “Lou” Delgado and Gregory Tendrich, both running for Circuit Court Judge, Group 4; Gregg Lerman and Dana Marie Santino, both vying for County Court Judge, Group 11; Tony Bennett (D), who is running for County Commissioner District 1 against incumbent Hal Valeche (Mr. Valeche did not attend); Sonny Maken, who is challenging incumbent Jean L. Enright for Port of Palm Beach, Group 3 (Ms. Enright did not attend); Daniel Sohn, who is running for Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation, Group 2 and Patricia “Pat” Edmonson, who is running for Palm Beach Soil and Water Conservation, Group 3.
“I think they all presented their issues very fairly and did so without attacking the other candidate,” said Robert Domm, a longtime Civic Association member. “It’s the issues that are important, not the personality of the other candidate.”
Press About the Event
Frankel, Spain Among Candidates Headlining Civic Association & Citizens' Palm Beach Forum
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel and Paul Spain, her opponent in the Nov. 8 election, spoke to more than 150 people Monday at a Civic Association's and Citizens' Association candidates forum in Palm Beach.