In preparation of the Town of Palm Beach Elections, the Civic Association is running a candidate series of non-partisan profiles on each candidate as they file for the election that is scheduled for February 1016. This is the beginning of that series.
By Paul Scicchitano, Civic Association Correspondent
Margaret “Maggie” Zeidman, a former New York City nurse and hospital executive, has scrubbed in as the first candidate to file for the 2016 Palm Beach Town Council race.
Mrs. Zeidman, who lives in a John Volk home adorned with pieces of the historic Royal Poinciana Hotel, has never held political office, but plans to run her campaign on a platform of greater civility, though she prefers to call it respect and balance.
“I’m really tired of that word. Aren’t you tired of it?” she protested in a recent interview after filing papers at the end of June to pursue the Group 2 seat held by Penelope Townsend, who has not said publicly whether she will seek re-election when voters go to the polls on February 2, 2016.
Having begun her 27-year career as an emergency room nurse, Mrs. Zeidman retired from Lenox Hill Hospital as director of nursing for critical care, cardiovascular and surgical units at the 652-bed facility in Manhattan's Upper East Side, experience that she sees as valuable preparation for her political ambitions.
“I had 464 nursing personnel and I had a manpower budget in excess of $30 million,” the mother of two explained, noting that she also dealt with two labor unions, was inducted into the nursing honor society, and earned a leadership in nursing award from the University of Miami along the way.
For the past four years Mrs. Zeidman has served as vice chair of the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians & Jews. She also serves on the advisory board for Interfaith Health and Wellness, which is part of the Catholic Charities’ arm of the Diocese of Palm Beach.
Her work in both organizations and her own family situation – her husband is Jewish and she is Catholic – have also helped prepare her for the dynamics of public service.
“Having been exposed to the religion of Judaism, which I admire greatly, I understand how people can be different, but also can respect one another because that’s what I’ve done in my own marriage,” she explained. “I think because of my own unique experience in my own home that I’ve been able to foster that and to really increase understanding and respect among both groups.”
She and her husband Mark, a chief financial officer at a Charlotte-based mortgage servicing company, have lived on Barton Avenue since moving to Palm Beach in 1997. They have two children – Jessica, a physician in Boston, and Joe, a chartered financial analyst in Boston. Both children are married and have children of their own.
To assist with her campaign, Mrs. Zeidman has retained political consultant Daryl Glenney, who worked on Councilwoman Danielle Moore’s campaign earlier this year as well as the campaigns of former Mayor Lesly Smith and the late Council President William J. Brooks, a well-known broadcaster later turned politician.
Mrs. Zeidman’s campaign reported $6,250 in campaign contributions as of the end of June. The campaign hopes to raise in excess of $150,000, which will be used for advertising, mailings and what Mrs. Zeidman describes as an issues event tour. “On this island of Palm Beach, where you live may determine what issues are most important to you,” she said. “What I would like to do is have a grassroots kind of movement in the Town and find out what the people’s concerns are in different areas and also the concerns that affect all of us. So we are going to use some of the money – probably a good bit of the money – to make that happen.”
A self-described fiscal conservative and social liberal, Mrs. Zeidman became disenchanted with the acrimonious tone that has marked some of the more contentious discussions of late, such as the planned Testa project along Royal Poinciana Way and Sunset Avenue.
“It’s almost as if there are two camps,” she added. “There is the camp that does not want things to change and relies, in my opinion, on the ordinances of the town to prevent development and then there’s another group – and that’s the group I belong to – who thinks that change is inevitable, and that we need to manage the change so that we can keep the historic character of our town.”