Palm Beach County elections are underway. What you need to know
After March 8, Palm Beach County could see a slew of new faces in local positions of power.
Nineteen municipalities in Palm Beach County are hosting elections, many of which are looking to fill open positions from mayor to city commissioner.
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WLRN's Wilkine Brutus tells us what races stand out and what voters need to know.
Early voting began Saturday for residents. This year, voters could cast their ballot at four early voting locations regardless of their district:
- Wells Recreation Community Center, 2409 Ave. H West, Riviera Beach
- Supervisor of Elections Main Office, 240 S. Military Trail, West Palm Beach
- Ezell Hester Community Center, 1901 N. Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach
- Delray Beach Community Center, 50 NW First Ave., Delray Beach.
Polls open at 10 a.m. and run through 7 p.m. every day until March 6. Residents can drop off a mail ballot at any Palm Beach County supervisor of elections office.
Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law an election bill that adds restrictions to the vote-by-mail process and the use of ballot drop boxes. The law stipulates new identification requirements to request an absentee ballot, such as a driver license, state ID or social security number.
Floridians were accustomed to applying for an absentee ballot once every two election cycles. Now, voters must apply for a ballot each general election cycle.
Each ballot drop box will be restricted to certain hours:
Supervisor of Elections Drop Box Hours
Main Office Only
- February 26 - February 27 | 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- March 5, 6 | 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- February 28 - March 4, 7 | 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- March 8 | 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
West, north & south branch offices only
- February 28 - March 4, 7 | 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- March 8, | 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Closed Saturdays and Sundays
The main office should receive your mail-in ballot by 7 p.m on election day, March 8.
A rundown of some major races
WLRN: Let’s break down some of the races. In the northern part of the county, what makes the town of Jupiter's election different?
BRUTUS: Jupiter’s Mayor Todd Wodraska, who served two terms, won’t seek re-election. He’s been mayor since 2016.
Residents in Jupiter will choose from three candidates for their new mayor. The newly elected mayor will work with the town council to hire a new town manager.
The previous town manager, Matt Benoit, resigned in October after the Jupiter Police Department filed a lawsuit over improper overtime pay, among other issues. Former staff and residents have spent weeks complaining about his management style.
WLRN: In the central part of the county, three city council members and the mayor of Riviera Beach are up for re-election. What issues are at stake in this election, and how do some of these candidates plan to approach the city's development?
BRUTUS: Right now, the city of Riviera Beach is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to replace municipal buildings and re-invest in the community, including the redevelopment of fire and police stations, a water treatment plant, libraries, a new medical center, urban farms. Some city council members have told me that the city wants to expand on those reinvestment goals but also make sure that development does not displace people in the community.
WLRN: Lake Worth Beach has a double-sided ballot this year with one city commission race and four questions that could change its elections process in a big way. What are some of those changes?
BRUTUS: Residents need to be aware that this isn’t just a race to fill their District 4 seat, replacing Herman Robinson who isn’t running for re-election — the city is amending its charter. There will be some changes in regards to how the city commission operates.
Here are two examples of the questions: There are no term limits in the city, so the first question would ask voters to decide on whether the maximum term limit for an elected official would be 12 consecutive years and then to wait 23 months to run again for the same seat. Question 3 brings up single-member district voting, which would allow voters from a specific district to vote for the commissioner of that district. Lake Worth Beach Commissioners are currently elected at-large, where all voters vote for each commissioner.
WLRN: Several elected officials in Pahokee, including city attorney and the interim city manager, were removed from their posts.
BRUTUS: Local politics in Pahokee has been like a wild telenovela. Pahokee is a small city with about 5,500 people in the western part of Palm Beach County near Lake Okeechobee.
Last year, the mayor declared a state of emergency after several city commission meetings turned tense and disorderly. The city commission fired its city attorney who was on the verge of releasing a report that showed mismanagement of city funds. There’s been accusations of corruption throughout the whole ordeal.
Pahokee has been trying to attract businesses and jobs to the community, so voters are demanding better leadership. Mayor Keith Babb is facing challenger Vice Mayor Regina Bohlen for his seat. Two other commissioner seats are up for grabs.
WLRN: West Palm Beach is the biggest city in the county with only one city commission race. What are some of the big issues the city faces?
BRUTUS: Two candidates are vying for the District 1 seat in West Palm Beach. That’s the only seat up for grabs. Commissioner Kelly Shoaf is not seeking re-election. The city is close to approving a University of Florida campus in downtown West Palm Beach, but aside from several business moves, the city's affordable housing shortage is still a major issue for its growing workforce.
WLRN: What other races are you watching?
BRUTUS: Boynton Beach — it's one of the largest cities in the county. Eligible voters have a chance to replace four out of the five commission seats in the city, including Mayor Steven Grant, who's leaving due to term limits. Two commissioners are leaving due to term limits as well. And Commissioner Ty Penserga has to resign his seat because he’s running for mayor. The new commission will fill his vacant seat.