By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
The voters have spoken on who they want to see sit on the dais for the next three years.
More than 6,000 voters cast votes in the municipal March election and the majority selected Jim Chard for Seat 2 and Shirley Johnson for Seat 4.
According to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, Chard received nearly 56 percent of the votes cast. Opponent Kelly Barrette garnered 28 percent of the votes followed by Richard Alteus with 8 percent of the votes and Annette Barthelemy with 7.7 percent.
In the race for Seat 4, Johnson received nearly 64 percent of the vote with the remaining 36 percent going to her sole opponent Josh Smith. This marks the second election defeat for Smith who lost a race in 2015.
As soon as the absentee ballot votes were tabulated, Chard and Johnson took an early lead. That win was solidified once all precincts were accounted for.
“I had an inkling that things were going well,” Chard said of election day. “But I was nervous. I was concerned that turnout was low. When the first results were announced, I was really amazed and really delighted. I think it really shows that the voters were listening. They chose candidates that had a progressive platform.”
Chard is a retired business executive who has been involved in city business for years. He sits on the city’s site plan review and appearance board, which is responsible for reviewing projects that want to come to town, and part of the Congress Avenue Task Force. He has also helped write grants for the city.
He said one of his goals is for the city to revisit plans that are sitting on shelves, like the Congress Avenue Task Force.
“One of the major reasons I ran is that there are a lot of things that the city doesn’t get done,” he said. “All of these reports have gotten filed away. I am interested in taking a look at those plans and implementing them.”
Johnson is a retired IBM professional who has served as a community volunteer. She said she is ready to keep her campaign promises, which include advocating for safe neighborhoods that have adequate police and fire protection, establish sober home regulations to protect those in recovery, preserve the city’s history with preservation and focus on sustainable growth through green initiatives.
“I am so happy to have been endorsed by the residents of Delray Beach,” she said. “I am so appreciative and happy that the residents are putting their trust in me.”
The voters’ decisions indicate that people support the way the city is growing and changing. Barrette and Smith received endorsements from sitting commissioners Shelly Petrolia and Mitch Katz, who typically vote against large development projects.
But just because Commissioner Katz didn’t publicly support Chard or Johnson he said he will not have an issue working with them.
“I am elected to work with whoever the voters elect to sit up there with me,” he said.
He said he has been worked with Chard on city projects before and doesn’t expect the transition with the new commissioners to be awkward.
Katz and Petrolia both posted on social media congratulatory remarks to the new commissioners on election night.
Some hot topics that will likely come before the new commission include finishing up a possible settlement agreement with the developers of Atlantic Crossing, permanently filling the city manager position and finalizing outstanding issues with the iPic project.