Five candidates compete for two commission seats:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Former Delray Beach Mayor Jeff Perlman contributed to Adam Frankel’s campaign. He did not. Frankel raised $3,000 from five donors associated with Delray Beach real estate investor Carl DeSantis. Perlman was not one of these contributors.
By Jane Smith and Michelle Quigley
Delray Beach voters will select candidates for three commission seats on March 13.
A fourth seat will be taken by residential Realtor Bill Bathurst. Bathurst had no challengers for the position vacated by Jim Chard, who stepped down to run for the mayor’s seat when Mayor Cary Glickstein decided not to pursue re-election.
The new commissioners will be sworn in March 29.
The mayor’s race pits two current commissioners: Shelly Petrolia, who has served five years, and relative newcomer Chard, elected to the commission in March 2017. Both have assembled sizable campaign contributions through Feb. 9, the last period reported before publication.
Chard, who filed for the mayor’s race in late October, has collected $79,200 in donations with no self-loans. Petrolia, who announced her run in August, has reported $106,232 in contributions, including $36,000 in self-loans and matching contributions.
Their supporters often spar on social media.
Some testiness spilled over Feb. 7 at the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce candidates forum at the Arts Garage.
When Petrolia was allowed to go first in the mayoral portion of the forum, she announced that she wanted to talk about a “housekeeping matter.”
She had received copies of an email exchange indicating Chard had seen three questions ahead of time.
Chard sits on the Chamber’s Advocacy Committee, which put together the questions for the forum. As a member, he was part of an initial email string that asked for possible questions. Chard acknowledged receiving three questions from fellow committee member Chuck Halberg, a contractor who has donated $1,000 to Chard’s campaign.
Halberg proposed three topics: addressing the turnover of city staff, finding city tax dollars to support nonprofits if state legislators cramp spending by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, and redeveloping Congress Avenue.
Chard replied: “Great question my friend” in copies of the emails supplied to the media by the Petrolia campaign.
The email exchange flies counter to the Chamber’s secrecy policy over the candidate questions. At the debate, the group sequesters candidates so that they can’t hear the same questions asked in other races. It also takes away their smartphones so no one in the audience can text the questions to them.
The Chamber called Chard’s inclusion on the email string a mistake, but said the three questions would still be asked. Petrolia agreed to continue, saying, “I don’t need the extra time or energy or help.”
In addition to Halberg, Chamber Advocacy Committee members Bill Branning, Jay Alperin, Rick Caster, Jeff Perlman, Cathy Balestriere and Scott Porten have donated a total of $6,250 to Chard’s campaign.
Chard, a retired business executive, has collected about half of his contributions from developers, their attorneys, architects and commercial brokers.
Campaign contributions are limited to $1,000 by individuals and corporations, under state law.
The developers of the iPic theater project — known as the 4th and 5th Delray project — now under construction in downtown, have given Chard $7,000. When contributions from the project’s attorneys are included, the total rises to $10,500.
Chard has raised $250 from two Old School Square donors, but when some of the Chamber Advocacy Committee donors — who also are Old School Square board members — are included, the total reaches $6,250.
Chard has also amassed $6,000 from Ocean Properties, a Delray Beach hotel owner.
He touts support from public safety groups, with three political action committees donating a total of $2,500.
Petrolia, a residential Realtor, has received $1,000 contributions from both Allen Zeller and his wife, JoAnn Mower. Last summer, Petrolia nominated Zeller, a semi-retired attorney, to the city’s CRA board. His nomination was approved unanimously. Mower is a retired hospital administrator. Petrolia also received $1,000 each from Price Patton and his wife, Carolyn. Price Patton sits on the city’s Historic Preservation Board. Carolyn Patton belongs to the nonprofit Delray Beach Preservation Trust. The Pattons also own a minority stake in The Coastal Star.
Steve Plamann, husband of Coastal Star researcher Michelle Quigley, donated $100 to Petrolia in January.
Other Petrolia contributors include four home builders who donated $1,000 each, four auto-related companies that gave a total of $3,000, and two downtown retailers: Mark Denkler and David Cook gave $1,000 each.
She also received $1,000 from Waste Management Inc., the city’s trash hauler.
Josh Smith, the retired educator whom Petrolia supported last March in his failed run for a commission seat, donated $1,000 to her campaign, as did Ken MacNamee, a retired auditor who often combs the city’s spending practices and notifies the commission of his findings.
Seat 3 incumbent Katz
The Seat 3 commission race pits incumbent Mitch Katz against Ryan Boylston. Both have raised nearly equal amounts of money: $54,956 for Katz and $52,235 for Boylston.
Katz lent his campaign $500, while Boylston lent his campaign $5,000. In addition, when Boylston — founder of Woo Creative — designed his campaign website and provided design services, he set those in-kind donations at $2,500 and $750 respectively.
Katz began campaigning in June, scoring a $1,000 donation from Menin Development Inc., through Rosebud Capital Investment. Menin has made significant investments in downtown Delray Beach, including where the Capital One bank branch replaced the Green Owl restaurant.
For Katz, the largest contributors were restaurateurs; five donated a total of $4,200. Three downtown retailers donated a total of $1,350, with an in-kind donation of $991.20 from the Silverball Museum.
Katz also received $1,000 from Josh Smith, whom he backed last year in a failed commission race. The Pattons donated $1,000 each to Katz.
Seat 3 challenger Boylston
Boylston donors appear to be a carbon-copy of Chard’s. Ten attorneys donated to Boylston for a total of $7,500. That group includes former City Attorney Noel Pfeffer and former City Commissioner Jordana Jarjura, who both clashed with Katz during his first term.
Six Chamber members and a former staff member donated a total of $5,600 to Boylston. Five executives at Ocean Properties, owner of the Residence Inn and the Marriott on the beach, each gave him $1,000.
Match Point, which operates tennis tournaments, donated $1,000 to his campaign. Delray Beach is suing Match Point to get out of a no-bid contract that obligates the city to pay Match Point about $2 million annually.
Boylston’s former Delray Newspaper partners, Jeff Perlman and Fran Marincola, together donated $1,500. Boylston gave up his stake in the newspaper in January when he filed to run for the City Commission.
At the Chamber forum, Boylston and Katz clashed over lawsuits the city was involved in while Katz has been on the commission. One suit involved the Atlantic Crossing developers who wanted their site plan approved. The city won both cases, Katz said.
Three vie for Seat 1
The race for Seat 1 features three men: Richard Alteus, who has a background in public safety; tech worker Eric Camacho, who is running for the first time, and former City Commissioner and criminal-defense lawyer Adam Frankel.
Frankel, who raised $53,550, leads his challengers in donations. Alteus raised $1,500 and Camacho raised $200. Camacho had not yet filed a contribution report detailing donors.
Alteus had four health care-related donors for a total of $500. He lent his campaign $370.
Frankel’s war chest includes $12,700 in legal contributions, including from Joe White, who owns property near the Arts Warehouse. Frankel also raised $3,500 from six donors associated with Delray Beach real estate investor Carl DeSantis.
In addition, Frankel received $500 from four public safety political action committees for a total of $2,000. The tennis tournament operator Match Point also donated $1,000 to Frankel.
Candidate forum planned
The South County Recovery Residence Association and The Palm Beach County Substance Abuse Coalition are planning a Meet the Candidates Forum for 7 p.m. March 7 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 188 S. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach.