Chal­lenger Bo­tel trounces 10-year in­cum­bent Pardo

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Tony Doris Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

RIVIERA BEACH — Chal­lenger Julie Bo­tel eas­ily de­feated 10-year in­cum­bent Dawn Pardo, while City Coun­cil Chair­woman KaShamba Miller-An­der­son fended off her chal­lenger, Keith Golden, by a wide mar­gin in a race strongly af­fected by anger over the fir­ing of pop­u­lar Riviera Beach City Man­ager Jonathan Evans.

Miller-An­der­son — who sup­ported Evans — hand­ily beat Palm Beach fire bat­tal­ion chief Golden, a new­comer to pol­i­tics, in District 2.

In District 4 on Singer Is­land, Bo­tel beat Pardo, who voted to fire Evans, by more than a 3 to 1 mar­gin. Bo­tel, a for­mer deputy school su­per­in­ten­dent in Penn­syl­va­nia, was crit­i­cal of the fir­ing.

The two in­cum­bents on the

WIN­NER: MillerAn­der­son five-mem­ber coun­cil faced chal­lengers this year amid mount­ing tur­moil over the board’s un­ex­plained fir­ing of Evans last Septem­ber.

That fir­ing, by an un­sched­uled 3-2 vote, ex­ac­er­bated tensions within a city govern­ment al­ready hob­bled by hav­ing many jobs un­filled. While the needs of res­i­dents and busi­nesses in the low-in­come commu-

nity went un­met, the coun­cil spent heav­ily on travel, car al­lowances and stipends and fell ever-deeper into po­lit­i­cal in­fight­ing.

“I re­ally tried to make sure I could some­what dis­tance my­self from it but I know some­times peo­ple paint it with a broad stroke,” Miller-An­der­son said Tues­day night. “Peo­ple could truly see I re­ally was try­ing to do what was right and based de­ci­sions on what was the right thing to do . ... I be­lieve that my ac­tions in the meet­ings, my pro­fes­sion­al­ism, my de­meanor, a lot of stuff was go­ing on and peo­ple were try­ing to get me out of char­ac­ter but be­ing able to main­tain that, peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ated that.”

As for Bo­tel’s win, Miller-An­der­son said: “She’s brand new to it but I think her mo­tive for com­ing is to do what’s right and to do what’s best for peo­ple and she’s will­ing to lis­ten. She’s not com­ing at it with her own agenda. And with her ex­pe­ri­ence as as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent, deal­ing with bud­gets, I think it will make a dif­fer­ence.”

Bo­tel said she was prompted to run be­cause of the fir­ing of a man­ager who tried to rein in waste­ful spend­ing by the coun­cil. She noted that coun­cil members have given them­selves an an­nual $12,000 stipend from the city util­ity in ad­di­tion to their salary, to com­pen­sate them “for at­tend­ing one meet­ing a month.” She said she wanted to make sure the city hired qual­i­fied man­agers, rather than eas­ing re­quire­ments.

Pardo con­ceded the coun­cil han­dled the fir­ing poorly but said she voted for it be­cause Evans pro­posed un­fair taxes and hir­ing 24 em­ploy­ees de­spite a po­ten­tial bud­get deficit. A fre­quent at­tendee at League of Cities con­fer­ences, over the past two years Pardo spent more than her col­leagues on travel, in­clud­ing a trip to Barcelona. She said that trip was worth it, “to learn more about the de­vel­op­ment, op­er­a­tion and man­age­ment of a public mar­ket,” as Riviera Beach was plan­ning.

In the District 2 race, Miller-An­der­son urged the three coun­cil members who voted for the fir­ing with­out dis­cus­sion to ex­plain their rea­sons — they wouldn’t. She urged them to re­con­sider their de­ci­sion. When they sought to loosen the re­quired qual­i­fi­ca­tions for a city man­ager re­place­ment, she re­sisted but again found her­self in the mi­nor­ity. Miller-An­der­son is the only coun­cil mem­ber who voted against the $12,000 stipend from the start and de­clined to ac­cept it.

Golden, vice pres­i­dent of Gold Coast Pro­gres­sive Fire­fight­ers and board mem­ber of the Palm Beach County (fire­fight­ers) Re­gional Diver­sity Com­mit­tee, said he ran be­cause he “got fed up by the lack of move­ment.” The city suf­fers from lack of vi­sion and fo­cus, he said.



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