By Anne Geggis

Mayor Shelly Petrolia’s service to the city has gotten her sued personally, put her at the helm during multiple city manager firings, never won her the support of the city’s real estate establishment — yet made her popular enough that her preferred successor is taking her seat.
12420271286?profile=RESIZE_400x

Her last regular City Commission meeting March 5, wrapping up 11 years on the dais (the last six as mayor), was no time to start getting sentimental.

When Vice Mayor Ryan Boylston commented at the end of the meeting about how he had crawled into a pit to shadow a city worker, the mayor raised concerns about the liability the city could have faced had something happened to him. And that had Boylston bristling.

“To throw shade in our last meeting on something that was so valuable to me …” Boylston said in disbelief.

“I am not throwing shade,” Petrolia retorted.

It turned out to be Boylston’s last regular meeting on the commission as well, although he wouldn’t find that out until March 19 when he lost a mayoral bid that Petrolia’s pick Tom Carney won.

All in all, the woman Boylston wanted to replace — and who regularly landed on the opposing side of Boylston in commission votes — has presided over many fireworks. She was term-limited from running for reelection.

Counting interim city managers, Delray Beach has gone through eight managers in the past 11 years. Petrolia chalks that up to her wanting the best for Delray Beach.

Also, Petrolia led controversial efforts to put the Community Redevelopment Agency under the City Commission’s direct control and end the lease with the Old School Square

Center for the Arts. What happens with the management of Old School Square’s cultural arts programming is one of the cliffhangers Petrolia leaves for the new leadership to decide.

“She might be one of the most naturally talented elected officials I’ve ever seen,” said

Joy Howell, who worked in communications for the Gore-Lieberman presidential ticket in 2000, before becoming a close observer of Delray Beach politics in 2015.

With rights to say that she voted to lower taxes for nine years and against Atlantic Crossing, Petrolia is going out with the full slate of candidates she supported elected with convincing margins.

Commissioner Adam Frankel, who is leaving the dais after being elected five times, was often on the other side of the votes Petrolia cast.

“She was always passionate and stuck to her beliefs and while sometimes she and I disagreed she … never wavered from the positions that she thought were best for the city,” he said at the March 28 organizational meeting.

For now, Petrolia is not saying what her next move in politics is going to be, but she will point to what she thinks was her crowning achievement in office: getting Delray’s downtown through the COVID-19 epidemic with minimal damage.

“There wasn’t any manual to tell you how to do that,” Petrolia said.

She said she’s hoping her lasting gift to the city is that no one feels the way she did when she entered politics.

“One of the reasons that I came to get involved in politics was that I had lost faith in my government,” Petrolia said.

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 13
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jun 5
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 5
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in SOUTH PALM BEACH
Jun 1
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 1
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
May 30
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
May 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
May 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
May 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
May 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
May 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
May 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in OCEAN RIDGE
May 29
More…