The Coastal Star

In South Palm Beach two incumbents aren’t seeking re-election March 9. The top two vote recipients among six candidates will win the two open seats on the Town Council. The candidates in order of appearance on the ballot:


Richard Akin
PERSONAL: 64; married; no children; journalism degree Georgia State University.
PROFESSIONAL: Retired television producer and writer.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Participated in political campaigns; first run for political office.
POSITION ON ISSUES: Our tax rate is 7.65, more than double what our neighboring towns are. A lot of our owners are going to see their property taxes go up. We also in the next couple of years are going to be seeing beach refurbishment that’s going to cost us a lot of money. So we really seriously need to be more circumspect of how we’re spending our money. We’re in a recession. Ideally we would be cutting back. But at least quit expanding. Supports redevelopment of the two-story Palm Beach Oceanfront Inn, the only commercial property in town, to nine-stories with 99 units, and says the issue has gotten overblown. Spending is No. 1 issue. Doesn’t think a town of its size needs such expensive talent on staff.
QUOTE: “All the buildings surrounding the motel are that height, so I really don’t see an issue with it.”


Stella Jordan
PERSONAL: 70; widowed; three children; course work in business and finance at Florida State University; courses in banking.
PROFESSIONAL: Retired; former first vice president of SunTrust Bank Tampa Bay; former president of National Association of Bank Women, southwest Florida region; former marketing director, Tampa Children’s Ballet Theater.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Member of South Palm Beach code enforcement board; former president, Rizon East Condominium Association for three terms; currently treasurer, Rizon East Condominium Association, serving fourth term. No prior elected office.
POSITION ON ISSUES: Running united campaign with Susan Lillybeck to ensure comprehensive plan is not changed to allow high-rise condo hotel redevelopment on Oceanfront Inn site. Favors reasonable redevelopment with residents’ input. Favors keeping our local Police Department. Favors breakwaters to protect the beach. Favors fiscal responsibility and transparency.
QUOTE: “The issue of beach restoration is a top priority.”


Iris Lieberman
PERSONAL: Married, two children. Associate degree in applied arts, certification for religious school. PROFESSIONAL: Retired real estate broker/owner. Former New York state Realtor and owner/broker in New York.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Served on condo board; first run for political office.
POSITION ON ISSUES: Lowering taxes are a priority. Tax revenue is very much needed and whatever it takes, that’s what people have to do. Would like more discussion of the plusses and minuses of the Oceanfront Inn redevelopment. If it would help the community in tax revenue to pay for part of beach erosion, then it’s something that has to be looked into, according to the planning board, because that’s only commercial building that can bring revenue. It has to go before a planning board and give the owners an opportunity to satisfy residents. Wants to go with what the majority of people in the community want to increase revenue and lower taxes. The beach is very important; the beach should be real wide.
QUOTE: “The people here if you speak with them, they’re under the impression they’re going to build a world trade center. They’re not. They’re trying to build a resort that could increase the value of the properties and lower the tax rate.”


Susan Lillybeck
PERSONAL: 59; married; one child; attended Millikin University.
PROFESSIONAL: Owner for 28 years of Donut Delite in Moline, Ill.; former rate analyst for the Rock Island Lines railroad.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Worked on gubernatorial campaigns in Illinois; no prior elected office. POSITION ON ISSUES: Running united campaign with Stella Jordan to keep the current comprehensive plan and not allow a high-rise condo hotel on the Oceanfront Inn site. Wants to keep the Police Department; use business experience to promote fiscal responsibility; push for beach restoration to protect condos. Would work diligently with the entire council and seek input from all residents to build a consensus on what the town could do to keep tax rates at acceptable levels. Wants to accelerate the implementation of plans already in place. One of highest priorities will be to work closely with all public safety agencies to ensure safety and security in South Palm Beach.
QUOTE: “I strongly believe in the town's present land development regulation, which
regulates future development to a height restriction of 60 feet.”


Isabella Ralston-Charnley
PERSONAL: 66; single; no children; attended King’s School in England.
PROFESSIONAL: Worked in administration in family owned private hospital in England; retired from health care administration in U.S.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND: None
POSITION ON ISSUES: With budget looming, the priority is to lower the expenses in this very small town. Wants to see what more can be done to help counter beach erosion, “which is just dreadful, we have no beach.” Supports redevelopment of a new hotel on the Oceanfront Inn site. Would not vote for anything above 10 stories.
QUOTE: “The thing is really to get the expenses of the town down.”


Clare M. Semer
PERSONAL: 63; widowed, two children; associate degree in business Orange County Community College.
PROFESSIONAL: Former legal secretary; former medical office manager; owner of harness racing and breeding business; Realtor.
POLITICAL BACKGROUND: Former elected New York state fire commissioner; former alternate on South Palm Beach planning board; currently on community affairs advisory board; served on condo board.
POSITION ON ISSUES: Wants to remain in compliance with the existing comprehensive plan regarding hotel zoning. Would pay attention to renourishing the beaches and preserving the shoreline. Wants to be fiscally responsible with tax money.
QUOTE: “Watching over the budget hasn’t really been a hot item right now. People really are on the hotel, that’s their main focus, and there’s nothing on the table right now about the hotel. The community is making that apparently the hot issue.”

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