The Coastal Star

Along the Coast: Councils seat new members after decisions too close to call

Lantana recount upholds 2-vote victory

Newly elected Commissioner Edward Shropshire is sworn in to office March 27 by Town Attorney R. Max Lohman Jr.

as Shropshire’s wife, Lorin, and Mayor Dave Stewart look on.

Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Mary Thurwachter

    Newcomer Edward Shropshire edged out incumbent Lantana council member Tom Deringer by two votes in the March 14 election. Shropshire won 262 votes to Deringer’s 260.
    That razor-thin margin triggered a recount three days later on St. Patrick’s Day.
    Deringer, who says he has some Irish blood, was hoping for a little luck to give him the victory.
    But that didn’t happen. Initial results held up and Shropshire remained the victor.
    “I’m just happy it’s over,” Shropshire said. “I worked hard, went door-to-door, talked to a lot of residents. I ran on my integrity.”
    He wants to be the new voice of Lantana, but even more a new ear for the town. “I plan to listen and learn,” he said.
    Shropshire, who works for a building materials company, is a local union representative and served on the town’s planning board, said he was proud of the way he ran his campaign, “no backbiting, very cordial.”
    Deringer agreed, saying neither he nor Shropshire was a mudslinger. “That’s not the way we do things in Lantana.”
    Deringer, who served on the council for 15 years, said low voter turnout contributed to his defeat.
    “I thought people who had come out for me before would come again, but not all of them did,” said Deringer, who owns Palm Beach Tire.
    “In past elections, I knocked on every door but this year I had to devote more time to business because we were two men short at work. I knocked on doors, but not all of them. And, unlike my opponent, I did not call to remind people to vote on election day. I think many people forgot about the election.”
    He said the town had been good to him and that he plans to continue to serve in some capacity.
    With a population of 10,867, Lantana has 6,239 registered voters, according to the county’s Supervisor of Elections office. Just 522 voters cast ballots in the Shropshire-Deringer race, translating to an 8.4 percent voter turnout — more than 5 percent less than the average for the 21 municipalities in the county with elections in March.
    While the turnout was low, Mayor Dave Stewart said it probably wasn’t a historic low for the town. “There was a lot of apathy in the ’70s and ’80s.”
    But Stewart and other town officials said the two-vote win by Shropshire was likely the closest race in the town’s history.
    A higher voter turnout, Stewart said, usually favors the incumbent, and a lower turnout favors the challenger. A 12 percent turnout may have meant a different outcome, he said.
    Low turnout also concerns Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.
    “We have worked hard to establish a uniform municipal election date for 37 of our 39 municipalities and we’ve visited many of the cities who had elections prior to the March 14 election this year,” Bucher said. “We try to emphasize the direct impact that municipal elected officials have on the residents’ everyday life, but people like to vote in presidential elections and the voter turnout for municipal elections is unfortunately lower than we’d like.”
    Deringer, by the way, said St. Patrick’s Day did bring him good fortune, even if the recount didn’t go his way. He welcomed his seventh grandchild to the world later on the day of the recount. “His name is Tobias,” the proud granddad said. “We call him Toby.”
    In Lantana’s other contest, incumbent Phil Aridas beat newcomer Suzanne Gordon, 294-223.

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