The Delray Newspaper invited candidates to participate in our questionnaire and meet to discuss their platforms and explain why they are running for office. Candidate Richard Alteus did not respond to emails or phone calls to his listed contact information on file with the city clerk. The rest of the candidates participated in our questionnaire, which ran in our February edition, and met one-on-one with a representative from the paper. Once we reached the candidates, our staff met to discuss their ideas. Our endorsements are a reflection of the candidates we believe will represent the city in the most positive manner.
On March 14, Delray Beach voters will head to the polls to elect two new commissioners.
It’s an important election at a critical time in Delray’s history. Regular readers of the Delray Newspaper know that we have been concerned about leadership and the culture of division and incivility in our city. In our opinion, the atmosphere has led to attrition and instability at City Hall and has threatened Delray’s brand as an innovative city. So the upcoming election is particularly important.
Here is the candidate we recommend for Seat 4 based on interviews, questionnaires and observations of the individuals seeking office.
For Seat 4, the Delray Newspaper recommends Shirley Johnson, a 38 year resident over Dr. Josh Smith, another long time resident.
Ms. Johnson has been a community volunteer and enjoys the support of several key leaders in the city’s northwest and southwest neighborhoods. That’s important, because it appears her opponent did not enjoy the support of the community when it came time to replace departing Commissioner Al Jacquet with a temporary appointment. While the community fought hard for civic icon Yvonne Odom, there was no visible support for Dr. Smith.
Dr. Smith, a retired educator, is strongly supported by Commissioners Petrolia and Katz and is also aligned with candidate Kelly Barrette. There appears to be a concerted effort to elect like minded allies, a nifty political power play, but one that Delray residents should be wary of. While it has become fashionable to pin all of Delray’s ills on Mayor Glickstein and Vice Mayor Jordana Jarjura, the fact is the entire commission should be held accountable for a myriad of problems. The buck stops with the dais, not just one side of it.
And there is a lot to be concerned about from stalled investments and disturbing attrition among senior staff to growing property crime, vagrancy and unsavory sober home operators. Delray’s brand is sliding from innovative and exciting to dysfunctional and dispirited. So voters should be wary of giving any more power to candidates closely aligned with either faction. By casting his lot with Petrolia and Katz, Dr. Smith has made
Ms. Johnson has support from prior elected officials, a range of community
leaders and those who support a return to progress. But more importantly
she’s independent of the current crop of elected officials and enjoys
the support of neighborhood leaders in the important northwest and
southwest neighborhoods and among the broader community.
Her calm demeanor, long time devotion to Delray and lack of political handlers make her a better choice. If elected, we do think she will need to be brought up to speed on a variety of subjects. As will her opponent, who despite his long tenure in the city, seems to lack a grasp of Delray’s major issues.
We admire anyone who enters the arena and praise Dr. Smith for doing so. But at this time in its history, it’s important for the community to have a leader it can embrace and someone not blatantly aligned and we fear beholden to either faction.