Challenger Botel trounces 10-year incumbent Pardo
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.