By Joe Capozzi
Ocean Ridge voters will get the chance to choose two town commissioners in the March 14 municipal election after four candidates qualified in November to run for office.
Mayor Susan Hulburt and Commissioner Martin Wiescholek have drawn two challengers — Carolyn Cassidy and Robert Galleno. The top two vote-getters will win three-year terms.
Hurlburt, 67, was first elected to the commission in March 2019 to fill an open seat with a partial one-year term before winning a full term unopposed.
If re-elected, she said she would continue pushing for environmental policies aimed at protecting Ocean Ridge, a barrier island community surrounded by water. That includes a conversion from septic to sewer, replacing aging stormwater infrastructure, and protecting dunes and mangroves, she said.
“I’m a big environmentalist and not just for aesthetics,’’ she said. “I think the environment has much to do with many of the issues that need to be mitigated in the coastal islands.’’
She said she is most proud of having helped lead the commission’s purchase this year of environmentally sensitive land in the Lake Worth Lagoon that will be rezoned for preservation.
Hulburt has lived in Ocean Ridge for “about 10 years,” and is a member of the Ocean Ridge Garden Club.
Wiescholek, 53, took office for the first time in March 2020, days before the pandemic shut down the country. For the next 18 months, he said, the fallout slowed the commission’s ability to move the town forward toward important long-range projects such as septic-to-sewer conversion and resiliency improvements.
He said he is proud of having helped the commission improve town building codes and protect residents near the sites of lagging construction projects by cracking down on nuisance properties.
“Having a building official is a huge accomplishment,’’ he said, referring to the hiring of Durrani Guy in July 2020.
But Wiescholek — who has lived in the town for six years — promised to be “more proactive about trying to move the town into the future’’ if he’s re-elected.
“I can assure you this: If I get re-elected, there will not
be a third term for me. This is going to be my last. And because it’s going to be my last, I will have no problem pushing everybody and making everybody on that dais uncomfortable,’’ he said.
“I’m just one of five votes. If we don’t get things done, at least you will know and everybody else in town will know there are four people sitting there who are procrastinating and they can’t get out of their own way.’’
Cassidy, 59, a frequent contributor during public comment periods at town meetings, serves on the advisory Board of Adjustment. She ran for commission in 2021 and finished third by 16 votes to runner-up Kristine de Haseth in a four-way race. (Commissioner Geoff Pugh finished first and endorsed Cassidy in that race.)
Previously from Westhampton, New York, Cassidy owns a real estate business and has lived in Ocean Ridge for six-plus years. She is a member of the town’s Garden Club and co-chairs a review board within Impact 100 Palm Beach County, a group that awards competitive $100,000 grants to nonprofit organizations.
“Voters should elect me because I have a very commonsense problem-solving approach to things. I’m a good listener and I want to improve communication from the commission and the residents,’’ said Cassidy, a board member on a new Ocean Ridge nonprofit called the Starbright Civic Collective.
If elected, she would try to fix “redundancies and inefficiencies in the building department. We need less government intrusion and more protection of property rights.’’
Galleno, who turns 53 in December, is vice president of claims for Trident Claims Management, a third-party administrator for Lloyd’s of London. He moved to Ocean Ridge three years ago and is making his first run for public office.
He applied for the town manager’s job in September but wasn’t selected as a finalist.
“My motivation for running for office is to help our community to remain safe and peaceful by supporting our local law enforcement, increasing their pay scale to match other departments in the county,” he said in an email.
If elected, he said, he would look into the possibility that Ocean Ridge retain control of two county-owned parks in town — Ocean Inlet Park and Ocean Ridge Hammock Park. That would allow the town to lease the parks back to the county or another operator “so we can have more funding for law enforcement and create a higher pay wage for officers,’’ he said.
He also wants to look into installing speed bumps and pedestrian signal lights as well as creating more community events such as an annual 5K race.
Nicholas Arsali, an alternate member of the Board of Adjustment, initially filed to run but withdrew.