By Dan Moffett
For the first time in nearly two decades, Ocean Ridge won’t have Geoff Pugh playing some role in the town’s government.
Pugh decided not to seek another term on the Town Commission after holding a seat since 2003 and serving the last six years as Ocean Ridge’s mayor.
“Basically, after 15 years on the commission you kind of want to say, ‘I did my public duty, served the town and did a good job,’” Pugh said. “Now I’m going to pull back a little bit and spend more time with my wife.”
Pugh’s exit from the March election leaves three candidates competing for two open seats. The top two vote-getters will win them.
Gail Adams Aaskov, a former mayor and a commissioner for the last six years, is seeking another three-year term against two political newcomers: Kristine de Haseth, director of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, and Phil Besler, the owner of Besler Consulting in Boynton Beach.
Pugh helped the town navigate through some difficult issues during his last term as mayor.
Rapid growth in Boynton Beach and elsewhere across the bridge strained Ocean Ridge’s police, crowded its beaches with out-of-town visitors and created traffic congestion problems.
Three years ago, an ugly dispute between Commissioner Richard Lucibella and Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi led to the chief’s resignation and an unsuccessful recall attempt against Lucibella.
In 2016, Lucibella resigned from the commission after a shooting incident in his backyard and an altercation with an officer who responded. The Police Department’s morale suffered.
A personnel overhaul at Town Hall complicated matters for Pugh and the commission. Within weeks two years ago, the town attorney, manager and clerk retired.
Pugh, 54, served on the town’s Board of Adjustment before joining the commission. The owner of Pugh’s Pools, a spa and pool contractor, he has lived in Ocean Ridge for 22 years.