The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: No clear winner in Beach and Park District; runoffs set

By Steve Plunkett

Round 2 in the battle for two seats on the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District Commission is just beginning.
A Nov. 8 runoff will pit incumbent Dennis Frisch against challenger Craig Ehrnst for Seat 1, and challenger Erin Wright against incumbent Earl Starkoff for Seat 3. The rainy Aug. 30 primary eliminated challengers Shayla Enright and John Costello.
Frisch, a podiatrist, got 4,939 votes, tops in his race and more than any in the other race.
“I think that’s great. I just hope it will all translate well into the next step,” he said.
“I’m excited about going to November,” said Ehrnst, a corporate treasurer at NCCI Holdings. “Any way you look at it, it’s a good time for change.”
The final Seat 1 vote was 42 percent for Frisch, 35 percent for Ehrnst, and 23 percent for Enright. The Seat 3 tally was 38 percent for Wright, 37 percent for Starkoff, and 25 percent for Costello.
Wright, who has two young sons, could not be reached on election night. Starkoff, an IT services executive, also was unavailable; he had said he planned to kick a soccer ball with his granddaughter early in the evening and then retire.
Ehrnst took a commanding lead in raising cash for the race. Campaign finance reports filed for the period ending Aug. 26 showed him with $10,030 in contributions, compared with Frisch at $5,055 and Enright with $1,320.
For Seat 3, Starkoff’s $4,860 edged Wright’s $4,420. Costello did not file a finance report.
Business Leaders United for Boca Raton, the Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, gave $500 each to Ehrnst and Starkoff.
Citizens for Smart Growth, Efficient Government and Lower Taxes donated $1,000 to Ehrnst’s campaign. The organization’s president is Todd Richardson, who headed another organization that chased a candidate out of Boca Raton’s 2015 City Council race with an attack ad and website.
Other Ehrnst donors include developer Jamie Danburg ($1,000), Danburg Management Corp. ($1,000) and Danburg-affiliated Boca Industrial Park Ltd. ($1,000); law firm Weiss Handler & Cornwell ($1,000); and Boca Raton Public Safety PAC ($1,000).
Frisch took exception to an Aug. 24 email from Ehrnst announcing an endorsement from the Voters Coalition of Palm Beach County PAC, calling it a “sham.” A nonpartisan Palm Beach County Voters Coalition was dissolved in 2013, according to state records, Frisch said. The new coalition is weeks old and led by West Palm Beach attorney Leonard Feuer and former state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, a West Palm Beach Democrat.
Ehrnst dismissed the complaint. “I don’t know why my opponent and his shills are targeting me with attacks when they should be targeted on making Boca Raton better!” he said on Facebook.
Among Frisch’s donations is $300 from construction firm NuJak, which is renovating the Science Playground at district-owned Sugar Sand Park. He also received money from fellow Beach and Park District Commissioners Robert Rollins ($250) and Steve Engel ($50).

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