By Mary Thurwachter

Soon after the polls closed in Lantana, incumbent Mayor Karen Lythgoe joined friends at Lantana Pizza to celebrate her 653-385 win over newcomer George (Jorge) Velazquez.

“I’m relieved and I’m grateful that I get to keep working on what we’ve been working on,” Lythgoe, 64, said. “The five of us (council members) have got momentum going that I think is phenomenal.  I think the town needs what we’re doing, we know what we’re doing, and I’m honored to be able to continue to be a part of it.”

12402594059?profile=RESIZE_400xShe said she hadn’t slept for 24 hours and would be going home soon.

“I tossed and turned all night long and got up at 3:30 a.m. to start the day even though the alarm was set for 4:15 a.m.

The day did not go without some chaos.

A handful of Democrats were turned away from voting in Lantana, as poll workers were apparently confused that registered voters of all stripes could cast a ballot in the nonpartisan mayoral election.

The exact number of Democrats the confusion affected is not known.

An official with the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office said the office knew of that happening to one voter, who called the Department of State in Tallahassee to complain. Lantana Town Clerk Kathleen Dominguez said she saw it happen to one voter, who was able to vote when Dominguez intervened. She also knew of four others who were turned away and heard of another voter who was able to clarify that he or she was able to vote before leaving the polling place.

As far as Dominguez said she knew, the confusion was confined to two town polling places — Maddock Park and Lantana Recreation Center. Nonetheless, the complaint prompted Elections Supervisor Wendy Sartory Link to send out a notification to all the Lantana precincts clarifying that although there was not a Democratic presidential primary, Democrats were eligible to vote in municipal, nonpartisan elections and should be given a nonpartisan ballot. Link also came to town to help sort things out, Lythgoe said.

“There was some confusion either with the training or the field clerk,” Lythgoe said. “I am a registered Democrat and when I went to get my ballot for the mayoral race they had to converse and figure out if I was allowed to vote.”

Lythgoe said the voters who were turned away were called and invited to come back to vote.

12402597690?profile=RESIZE_710x

Lythgoe was elected to the council in 2020 and was acting mayor after Robert Hagerty resigned in 2022. During a special election last year, she ran successfully to complete the rest of Hagerty’s term, which ended with Tuesday’s election.

Velazquez handled defeat with a positive outlook.

“It is what it is, so it’s fine, I’m okay,” the 57-year-old said. “I got a lot of experience from this and I really learned a lot.”

Velazquez said he has helped friends with campaigns in the past and may do more of that in the future. A former commercial real estate agent, Velazquez worked in a federal prison in Miami from 1996 to 2009.

Of Lantana’s 7,500 registered voters, only 1,027 cast ballots in the mayoral election, under 14%.

 Staff writer Anne Geggis contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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