By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association -- Even the stormy weather didn’t keep more than 150 people from attending a “Meet and Greet the Candidates” Monday hosted by the Palm Beach Civic Association and co-sponsored by the Citizen’s Association of Palm Beach.
The event began 5 p.m. at Meat Market restaurant with 18 of the 55 candidates on the Aug. 28 primary ballot in attendance. Only candidates listed on the Town of Palm Beach ballots were invited.
In the primary election, registered Republicans vote for Republican candidates and registered Democrats vote for Democratic candidates. Everyone, including those with No Party Affiliation, vote for the judicial candidates.
“I think it’s very impressive what the Civic Association does in introducing the candidates,” said Ed Carter, a new Civic Association Director. “We need to be informed voters and we saw a lot of good candidates today. Hopefully, people will get out and vote.”
Civic Association President Ned Barnes welcomed everyone to the event.
“The whole idea behind this is for you to meet your local candidates,” Mr. Barnes said.
Each candidate had two minutes to make his or her pitch. The judicial candidates were recognized and waved to the crowd, but didn’t speak at the podium. Candidates in attendance spoke one-on-one with attendees before and after the program.
Donald Singer, co-chairman of the Citizen’s Association, introduced the judicial candidates and read a short bio on each one.
Candidates in Attendance
State Senate, District 30
Incumbent State Sen. Bobby Powell (D) and challenger Rubin Anderson (D), each spoke to the crowd. This race will appear on the Democratic ballots only.
Mr. Powell works as a planner with Urban Design Kilday Studios in West Palm Beach.
“A life of service is a life that counts,” Mr. Powell said. “I’ve worked with many elected officials here.”
Mr. Anderson is a master gardener who has designed many gardens on Palm Beach over the more than 20 years he has worked here.
“I want to be someone who is able to bridge all communities together and to make sure we get everything that we need,” he said.
State Representative, District 89 – Republican Candidates
Republican candidates Michael Caruso and Matt Spritz both attended.
Mr. Caruso is a forensic CPA with a practice in Delray Beach. He has lived in the district for 32 years and has served on several committees in Delray Beach.
“We’ve got overdevelopment, traffic issues, the opioid crisis, renourishment of our beaches and blue-green algae headed our way,” said Mr. Caruso.
Mr. Spritz was born and raised in South Florida. He has never run for public office before, but has experience working in state government as a public policy aide.
“Whether it’s cracking down on illegal immigration, blue-green algae, preserving our beaches, standing with Israel or promoting our business community, these are serious issues facing our state and our daily lives,” Mr. Spritz said.
State Representative, District 89 – Democratic Candidates
Democratic candidates James Bonfiglio and Ryan Rossi both attended.
Mr. Bonfiglio has lived in Ocean Ridge for 30 years and is currently the mayor. He served on the town’s Planning and Zoning Board before being elected to the Town Commission.
“I’ve had to deal with salt-water intrusion, beach erosion, beach renourishment, flooding, the opioid crises, sober homes – all those issues that have arisen in the district,” Mr. Bonfiglio said.
Mr. Rossi lives in Boca Raton. He has worked as a high-school teacher and currently sells real estate.
“As a teacher, public education is critically important to me and I know it’s important to many people in this district,” he said.
(Note: The winners of the Republican and the Democratic races for the State Representative, District 89 seat will face each other in the general election on November 6.)
Port of Palm Beach Group 5
Scott Holtz (D) is a South Florida native and lives in West Palm Beach. He is a practicing attorney and a small business owner in Lake Worth.
“The Port needs to be a good neighbor. There are valid concerns that residents of Palm Beach and on Singer Island and Palm Beach Shores have with activities at the Port,” Mr. Holtz said
Other Democratic candidates for the Port of Palm Beach Group 5, who did not attend, are Joseph Anderson, Kesnel Theus and John Sansbury.
The 11 judicial candidates in attendance were: Alcolya Jaquet Lashawn St. Juste - Circuit Court Judge Group 13; Joseph Maryuma and Marybel Reinoso Coleman - Circuit Court Judge Group 18; Henry Quinn Johnson and Sarah Willis - Circuit Court Judge Group 25; Lloyd Comiter, Gabriel Ermine and Ashley Zuckerman - County Court Judge Group 4; Richard Llerena, Sara Alijewicz and Jeremy Michael Zubkoff - County Court Judge Group 5.
Town Councilman Lew Crampton said the amount of people who came to the event is a testament about the amount of interest there is in the voting process.
Harris Fried agreed, adding, “What impressed me was the quality of the candidates.”
Palm Beach Residents Turn Out to Meet Primary Candidates
John Salazar hasn’t filled out his ballot. The Palm Beach resident wanted to first come here, to the Meat Market, to hear from candidates first-hand. “I had to find out what the local politics is all about,” said Salazar, who recently moved to the island.
Read More (Palm Beach Daily News)
Primary Election Early Voting
Early voting for the primary election has begun in Palm Beach County and continues through Sunday. Voting Times are 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily.
The closest early voting locations to the Town of Palm Beach are the Palm Beach Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach and the Supervisor of Elections Office, 240 South Military Trail, West Palm Beach.
Primary Election Day Voting, August 28
Precinct 1390, 1392 - St. Edward Catholic Church, 165 N. County Road
Precinct 1394, 7154 – Central Fire Station, 355 S. County Road
Precinct 7156, 7158, 7166 – South Fire Station, 2185 S. Ocean Blvd.
Images: Tracey Benson Photography
2018 Primary Candidate Meet & Greet