By Dan Moffett
Former Mayor Geoff Pugh made a victorious return to public life in Tuesday’s municipal election, besting three opponents and claiming one of two open seats on the Ocean Ridge Town Commission.
Pugh received 439 votes, almost 21% more than the No. 2 vote-getter, current Mayor Kristine de Haseth.
De Haseth narrowly edged out political newcomer Carolyn Cassidy by 17 votes, 364 to 347. Another political newcomer, John Kramer, finished fourth with 148 votes.
Pugh served six years as mayor until resigning from the commission in 2018 to spend more time with family. During the campaign he criticized the recent work of the commission under de Haseth, saying it passed too many frivolous ordinances that were a burden on residents and threatened property values. Pugh also promised to make town meetings more receptive to residents’ comments.
DeHaseth, who has served as mayor for a year, defended the new legislation as necessary to protect the town’s character and way of life during a period of growth. Pugh had endorsed Cassidy in the race.
The commission is to select the next mayor during its April 5 meeting and commissioners are in the unusual position of having three experienced prospects. Besides Pugh and de Haseth, current Vice Mayor Steve Coz also served two years as mayor.