Fired Riviera Beach man­ager haunts city elec­tion re­sults

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By DAPHNE TAY­LOR

It ap­pears the ghost of Jonathan Evans, for­mer city man­ager of Riviera Beach, is haunt­ing city elec­tions. No, Evans is not re­ally a ghost. In fact he is very much alive, now work­ing as city man­ager in Madeira Beach, Florida.

In last week's mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, two Riviera Beach can­di­dates won by huge mar­gins, and it's said to be due to the fall out over the ouster of Evans, which came sud­denly last fall--leav­ing hordes of city res­i­dents an­gry.

Julie Bo­tel, a for­mer deputy schools su­per­in­ten­dent in Penn­syl­va­nia, beat out 10-year in­cum­bent Dawn Pardo in an 80-20 land­slide - a feat said to be the loud voice of the peo­ple "un­seat­ing" Pardo be­ca­sue she voted to fire Evans. Mean­while, KaShamba Miller An­der­son, coun­cil chair­woman, who sup­ported Evans, also won by a large mar­gin.

Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters, who sided with new­comer Bo­tel, and in­cum­bent Miller An­der­son, said Evans was fig­u­ra­tively still on the bal­lot. Vot­ing in the city was up 25 per­cent in this elec­tion be­cause city res­i­dents were an­gered over the Evans ouster, he said.

"I do feel the peo­ple spoke loud and clear Tues­day. Most were vot­ing for Evans' sup­port­ers. It was no ques­tion in my mind that Evans was on the bal­lot," Masters said. "The peo­ple want their city man­ager back and we need to give the peo­ple what they want."

The fir­ing of Evans caused wide­spread chaos in the city last fall be­cause at that time, the res­i­dents felt there was no solid rea­son­ing given for his ter­mi­na­tion. (Two of the three coun­cilper­sons who voted to fire Evans, have since ex­plained their de­ci­sion to the South Florida Times in a story pub­lished last month) But at the time of Evans' re­moval, res­i­dents swarmed coun­cil cham­bers de­mand­ing an­swers, start­ing a re­call ef­fort, and vow­ing to get rid of the three who got rid of Evans. Many of the peo­ple be­lieved Evans was good for the city. The three coun­cil mem­bers who voted to fire Evans were, Ter­ence TD Davis, who made the mo­tion to fire Evans; Lynne Hub­bard and Dawn Pardo. Ef­forts to reach Pardo were un­suc­cess­ful.

Bo­tel, the big win­ner and a new­comer to city pol­i­tics, said Evans' dis­missal caused her to throw her hat in the ring. Bo­tel rep­re­sents District 4, Singer Is­land, the more af­flu­ent sec­tion of the city, but ac­cord­ing to her bio, she has worked con­sis­tently with the down­trod­den through­out her long­stand­ing ed­u­ca­tional ca­reer, hav­ing worked in pre­dom­i­nantly black school dis­tricts in Penn­syl­va­nia. Bo­tel says she has a heart for help­ing those in need and be­lieves it res­onated with the peo­ple; cou­pled with her op­pos­ing Pardo. "I'm ex­cited and anx­ious to get to work," she said in a post-elec­tion in­ter­view last week. As for the new city man­ager, she says she be­lieves the per­son should have govern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence to do the job. An in­terim city man­ager is now hold­ing the po­si­tion.

Bo­tel says she also wants the city to have a bet­ter rep­u­ta­tion when it comes to busi­ness. "We need to be more pro-busi­ness. Our city has a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing anti-busi­ness and we need to change that," she added.

Mean­while Miller An­der­son, an Evans sup­porter who voted against his fir­ing, won by a 63 per­cent mar­gin.

"I am elated to have the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue fight­ing for our res­i­dents. The last few days prior to the elec­tion, as a last ditch, des­per­ate at­tempt to win, a flyer was cir­cu­lated through­out the com­mu­nity filled with un­truths. I’m glad the res­i­dents saw through this tac­tic to slan­der my name and re­mem­bered my vot­ing record and their ex­pe­ri­ences with me and voted for the best per­son for the job."

Miller An­der­son's op­po­nent, Keith Golden, said he, too, be­lieves the race was re­ally about Evans. "Ab­so­lutely, the vot­ers were mak­ing a state­ment about their dis­plea­sure about Evans." Although he said Evans was treated un­fairly, Golden said he would have fared dif­fer­ently with­out the is­sue af­fect­ing the race. "I be­lieved he was some­one who could've moved the city for­ward. But he wasn't af­forded due process. Ev­ery­body de­serves due process," he in­di­cated.

Golden, who made his­tory in the Town of Palm Beach as the first black chief in fire res­cue, says his goal has al­ways been to move Riviera Beach for­ward. "I see Riviera Beach as a di­a­mond, and I want every­one else to see it through the same prism."

PHOTO BY ALAN LUBY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES

ELEC­TION RE­SULTS: Dr. Julie Bo­tel (fea­tured on p. 2A) a for­mer Deputy Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent is Penn­syl­va­nia and city coun­cil chair­woman KaShamba Miller An­der­son (above) both re­ceived an af­fir­ma­tive nod by vot­ers and were elected to Coun­cil seats by a...

PHOTO BY ALAN LUBY FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES

Dr. Julie Bo­tel, a for­mer Deputy Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent is Penn­syl­va­nia.

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