Outgoing Commissioner John Pagliaro (left) is shown with newly elected Commissioner Louis Stern and Vice Mayor Ron Brown
who were sworn into office March 21 in Highland Beach. Kurtis Boggs/The Coastal Star
By Steve Plunkett
The struggle to control town politics spilled over into commission chambers last month almost as soon as a new commissioner and new vice mayor were seated.
Ron Brown beat incumbent Miriam Zwick for vice mayor 548-332, and Lou Stern won over George Kelvin 625-255 for the spot vacated by John Pagliaro. Zwick and Kelvin ran as a team, with both names printed on one campaign button.
After Stern and Brown took their places on the dais March 21, Mayor Bernard Featherman made a replacement nomination for the new Charter Review Board. His choice: Carl Feldman, who ran the mayor’s campaign a year ago and managed Kelvin’s this time around.
No one made a motion to approve the nomination.
“I would choose not to select him for the Charter Review Board,” Stern said. His statement was echoed by Commissioner Dennis Sheridan, Brown and Commissioner Doris Trinley.
Featherman then asked that the board’s inaugural meeting scheduled for the next day be postponed because not all its members were residents of Highland Beach. Trinley asked him to identify the non-resident; the mayor said it was Town Clerk Beverly Brown, who lives in Boynton Beach and was Trinley’s nominee.
At the commission workshop six days later, Feldman said a letter Sheridan sent out backing Brown and Stern read in part: “I also feel they will be of great support to me on this commission.”
“I hope what I’m reading into this is not correct—in that you were planning on doing a bloc vote by saying they will be a great support to you on this commission?” Feldman asked during public comments.
“Absolutely not,” Sheridan replied.
Featherman read the qualifications of his new charter review choice first—owner and operator of two exercise facilities, member of Braemar Isle condo board of directors, head of committee that revised Braemar Isle employee handbook. His nominee: Deanna Kelvin, George Kelvin’s wife.
Commissioners made no comments on the choice or on Trinley’s replacement, Board of Adjustment & Appeals member Ruth Samuels. But at the April 3 meeting Featherman’s nominee had the same result.
“Can I have a motion to appoint Deanna Kelvin to the Charter Review Board, and is there a second? Mr. Sheridan?” the mayor asked.
“No comment,” Sheridan replied.
“I would prefer not to make the motion,” Stern said.
“No motion,” Brown said.
“I also pass,” Trinley said.
Samuels’ nomination was approved 4-1 with Featherman dissenting.
Other charter review members are Planning Board member Ronald Clark, Board of Adjustment & Appeals Chairman David Stern and Beaches & Shores Advisory Board Chairman Rosalind Svenstrup.
The commission presented plaques of appreciation to Zwick and Pagliaro for their years of “dedicated and loyal” service to the town.
Brown, president of the Bel Lido Property Owners Association, said there was no secret to his victory.
“It was just time for a change and I happened to be running,” he said. “I’m not sure that I’m the big saving grace.”
Lou Stern credited his win to a “gorgeous” brochure, upbeat campaign T-shirts and personal phone calls by him or his team to every voter in Highland Beach.
“Everybody got a phone call or a message left on their machine as opposed to a robot,” Stern said. “The other team did it [robot calls] two days in a row.... and it obviously didn’t help them.”
Pagliaro said he also made phone calls supporting Stern and Brown. Ú