By Joe Capozzi
Briny Breezes Town Council members Kathy Gross and Christina Adams will serve new terms because they drew no opponents for the March election during the qualification period that ended Nov. 23.
But the future of Mayor Gene Adams is uncertain because of a technical error that disqualified him from running for a new term.
The error? Adams made a check mark in a “No Party Affiliation” box on his campaign treasurer’s form — the same box he checked on the forms he submitted in his two previous successful campaigns as mayor.
The disqualification came as a surprise to Adams because he sat down with Town Clerk Sandi DuBose on Nov. 11, the first day of qualifying, to submit all of his paperwork.
“It comes down to I didn’t complete all the paperwork because of that simple check box,’’ Adams told The Coastal Star.
Why was it an error to check the box now when it wasn’t an error in the previous campaigns?
Adams said part of the answer might be a recent move by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections to take over Briny Breezes’ election process, as the county office has done with other municipalities.
It was an SOE office employee who notified Adams that his paperwork had been disqualified because of the checked box.
Adams also said DuBose told him she “did not know that box should not be checked when she and I went through the paperwork, so it’s a learning (process) for all of us.’’
Adams’ wife, Christina, also checked the “No Party Affiliation” box in error on her treasurer’s paperwork. She was notified before the filing deadline and was able to resubmit the paperwork without a check mark by the box.
The problem for Adams was that, in addition to resubmitting the treasurer’s form without a checked box, he also had to submit a new petition with 20 signatures of people supporting his mayorship. The petitions are required only for mayoral candidates, not council seats.
Adams said he was out of town on business when he was notified of the error. While he would have been able to simply resubmit a form without a check mark on the fateful box, he said he was told the town charter requires him to file a petition with 20 new signatures, not the signatures from the petition he filed on Nov. 11.
Adams, a senior director for Target Stores, said he is helping his company gear up for the holiday sales rush. There was no way he could have gotten back to town to gather new signatures before the Nov. 23 filing deadline.
The good news for Adams? No one else filed to run for mayor. As it stands now, his term will end in March.
Then it will be up to the Town Council to appoint a new mayor — the same process that initially gave Adams the job in February 2019 after then-Mayor Roger Bennett died.
“If the Town Council chooses me to return as mayor based on the technicality of that checked box, I’ll be there,’’ Adams said. “I feel like I’ve built credibility within Briny and hopefully the council will consider that. But at this time it’s ultimately going to be up to what process they take and who they appoint in March.’’
That process is expected to be discussed at the Town Council’s next meeting, Dec. 9.
DuBose appears to have exacerbated the issue when she emailed town aldermen and officials Nov. 23 with the qualifying results in a short memo that had the sentence “Mayor — vacant.’’
That prompted several emails to Adams from people on the thread asking if he’d resigned.
Adams wrote back, “I am not stepping down, the current position of mayor is not vacant. I did not qualify for the upcoming election for the office of mayor. I am still in position.”
And Adams’ reply prompted a town attorney to ask those on the email “to refrain” from discussing the issue until the Dec. 9 meeting so they avoid possible Sunshine Law violations.