By Mary Thurwachter

Lantana voters will decide two council races and a charter referendum on March 14.
The Group 3 race pits council member Mark Zeitler against Raymond Lastella, while the Group 4 race is between Christopher Castle and John Raymer.
The only election debate was scheduled for March 1, too late for coverage by The Coastal Star, so we asked the candidates what makes them best suited to serve.

Group 3
Lastella, 32, an entrepreneur with a boat detailing company and a jet ski rental company, has lived in Lantana for only a year and a half. He doesn’t consider that a drawback.
“I know I’m the new guy, but I do my due diligence and I try to be as accurate as I can on subjects,” he says. “If I don’t know something, I’ll look it up. You don’t have to be here for 50 years to understand what the town needs and wants.”
The town’s major issues are speeding and reckless driving, Lastella says. And, after talking with residents at the Carlisle senior living community, he realizes there’s a need for safety measures to help pedestrians crossing the street.
People should vote for him, he says, because he has good leadership skills and wants to bring people together.
“I know that this town has a ton of potential and I’ll bring my knowledge and ideas across the board and try to do the best I can to make the town better,” he says. “I’m hoping to start a family here, ready to get married and have children, and this is a place where I want to stay and raise my children.”
Zeitler, who turns 67 on March 10, says being a council member has been a good learning experience and one to which he is devoted. The owner of an air-conditioning firm, Zeitler has lived in Lantana most of his life. He has missed only one meeting — when he was hospitalized after breaking his heel in July. Zeitler spent months getting around on a scooter or crutches, but didn’t let that slow him down.
He says his major first-term accomplishments include keeping medical marijuana dispensaries out of town and discovering the library’s contractor was unlicensed, which led to a more discerning vetting process.
Zeitler’s council experience and his lengthy time in town are reasons he thinks he’s the better candidate. His work experience is also a plus, he says.
“My work experience, besides air-conditioning contracting, is also underground utilities,” he says. “That makes it easy for me to understand what is going on when voting for water and sewer infrastructure work. My air-conditioning contracting business demands that I know engineering and laws like workers comp and liabilities. Being a businessperson, I understand the need for having reserves for bad times. I want to make sure Lantana remains the quaint little place that it is.”

Group 4
The Group 4 races features two newcomers, as the seat is currently held by Karen Lythgoe, who instead ran unopposed for mayor and will be sworn into that position.
Castle, 37, a maintenance facilities director for PetMeds, is a native Floridian who has lived in Lantana for 15 years. A self-described problem solver, Castle said he has always had a passion for the town.
His aim in running, he says, is to make positive changes. A new volunteer for the Lantana Chamber of Commerce Fishing Derby, Castle recently purchased two bicycles to be given away during the children’s fishing event. “I used my own money, not campaign funds,” he said.
Castle’s biggest campaign issues include infrastructure and safety, two things he says he is well versed in.
“I know how to take care of these problems,” Castle says.
His previous experience as control room operator at Florida Power & Light and his work for the South Florida Water Management District would help him in dealing with the power grid, flooding and rain issues, as well as water quality, he says.
“I also have quite a bit of education with my jobs and bring skills to the town that can alleviate some of these issues.”
Raymer, 52, who retired from a 21-year U.S. Army career and is manager of Ace Rental Place in Lantana, says a main reason he’s running is to make sure residents are informed about what’s going on in the town.
“I see a lot of people still left in the dark,” says Raymer, an eight-year Lantana resident who was unsuccessful in his first run for council last year against veteran council member Lynn Moorhouse. He would inform people through emails, texts or in snail mail included with utility bills, he says.
The town’s major issues, he says, include keeping taxes in line, improving infrastructure, and attracting tourism, which he says could help in keeping taxes down. Another big concern, he says, is restoring the beach itself, which he says is so narrow that people end up going to Lake Worth Beach instead.
Voters should choose him for the job because he has strong leadership skills and military background and has no ulterior agenda, he says.
“I want to be the people’s voice and I want to bring the town together,” Raymer says.

Referendum
Lantana residents also will vote on whether to change the Town Charter to put an end to runoff elections. Currently, a candidate must receive at least one more than 50% of the votes in a race to be elected. If no candidate gets a majority, a runoff election is held between the two candidates receiving the most votes in the race.
Forced runoffs in two council races last year made some elected officials consider a change to a plurality system, where the candidate receiving the highest number of votes in a race — whether or not it is a majority — is the victor. 
Changing the election system requires a change in the town’s charter, something voters need to decide.

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