CRA Vice Chairman Robert Weinroth, Mayor Susan Haynie, Council Member Michael Mullaugh
and CRA Chairman Scott Singer at the March 31 meeting.
Kurtis Boggs/The Coastal Star
By Steve Plunkett
Boca Raton’s coastal voters turned out for the March ballot and embraced winning Mayor Susan Haynie in even stronger proportions than citizens farther inland.
Turnout citywide was a healthy 18.9 percent for the election of a mayor and two City Council members. That compares to 7.8 percent in 2011, the previous mayor’s race featuring political novice Linda Gruneisen and incumbent Susan Whelchel.
At the council’s March 31 organizational meeting, Haynie said she had received numerous well wishes from optimistic residents.
“I sense the excitement, that there is a new beginning in our city today,” she said.
Voters chose Haynie over council member Anthony Majhess by 57 percent to 43 percent. Her margins of victory were higher still on the barrier island.
Haynie commanded 59 percent in Precinct 4172, the north beach area now home to the city’s pilot dog-beach program that she championed. She won 67 percent of the vote in Precinct 4226, the part of the island from Palmetto Park Road to the Boca Inlet; 63 percent in Precinct 4228 from the inlet to Seminole Drive; and 57 percent in Precinct 4230 from Seminole Drive south to the city limits.
Majhess won 75 percent of the vote in Precinct 4190, which goes from Gumbo Limbo Nature Center south to Palmetto Park Road, but also includes the Golden Triangle neighborhood west of the Intracoastal Waterway, Majhess’ stronghold.
Haynie scored big in Precinct 4224, which covers Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club and its environs, Whelchel’s neighborhood. The former mayor endorsed then-Deputy Mayor Haynie, who took the precinct by a 71-29 margin.
Haynie said at the organizational meeting that firefighter and police pensions, growth and economic development are challenges the city still has to solve.
“We need … to maintain our quality of life that makes Boca Boca,” Haynie said.
Voters re-elected council member Michael Mullaugh to a second full term with 52 percent over corporate treasurer Craig Ehrnst (31 percent), Lynn University student Eric Gooden (11 percent) and Lynn University admissions counselor Mohamed Abdalla (5 percent).
Elected to the remaining year on Majhess’ term was Robert Weinroth, the biggest vote-getter of all the candidates with 6,868 ballots (67 percent). Political activist Rosetta Bailey drew 16 percent and mortgage broker Yaniv Alcalay got 17 percent.
Majhess, a county firefighter, had to resign his council seat early to run for mayor.
Lawyer and real estate investor Scott Singer won Haynie’s former seat in January when no one filed to campaign against him.
Council members chose Scott as deputy mayor and Singer to chair the Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency. Weinroth will be the CRA vice chair.
County Commissioner Steven Abrams, who preceded Whelchel as mayor, remembered the first time he met her 20 years ago as a potential candidate making a public comment at a council meeting.
“She’s wearing like some tennis togs, some like dark sunglasses, she starts yammering on. I’m thinking, ‘This is who they’re sending me?’ ” Abrams recalled.
Abrams, who spoke at the council’s March 25 meeting, congratulated the winners and praised Whelchel’s years of public service.
“I think it’s a legacy that is going to serve the community well,” he said. “It’s a record of accomplishment that certainly the new council will be able to build on.”
Majhess, who made his farewell comments March 25, said he hoped the new council will protect Boca Raton from overdevelopment but fretted about the lack of articulation and Mizner-esque spires and towers on some buildings under construction downtown.
“They’re sheer walls still on their way up,” Majhess said.