Palm Beach Gardens voters elected two new council members Tuesday and will decide on a third in a runoff election in two weeks.
Mark Marciano, a 46-year-old optometrist, handily defeated Michael Paolercio, the 65-year-old co-founder of Michael Anthony Jewelers, to win the Group 1 seat.
Marciano, celebrating with supporters at Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub, said voters wanted someone who was knowledgeable and cares. Marciano said voters recognized that he’s been engaged with the city in multiple ways for many years.
“We’re very happy and very excited about working for the residents of the city that showed all this confidence in me. I’m honored,” he said.
Officials will have to work hard at managing the traffic and growth while keeping the small town feel of the city, he said. They’ll also work to increase transparency and other issues that came up during the candidate forums, he said.
Voters chose Matthew Lane, a 62-year-old family law attorney, for the Group 3 seat. Lane avoided a runoff by earning just over 50 percent of the votes in the three-way race with Ron Berman and Kathryn “Katie” Gettinger, a homemaker.
Berman unsuccessfully ran for State Senate District 30 in November.
Lane spent most of the day campaigning at the Christ Fellowship polling place and then awaited the results at home with his family.
After all, as a fiscal conservative — a moniker he as frequently used on the campaign trail — he wasn’t going to spend any money on a party in case the race went to a runoff, he said.
The overarching priority for every issue that comes before the City Council must be preserving the quality of life for current residents, he said.
“Every action we take has to keep the quality of life in Palm Beach Gardens in mind,” Lane said.
Palm Beach Tech Executive Director Joe Russo Jr., 27, and pharmacist Rachelle Litt, 61, advanced to a Tuesday, March 28 runoff election to determine the winner for the Group 5 seat.
They defeated Kevin Easton, a retired senior engineering technician and George Wicker, a retired businessman with Lockheed Martin.
Litt, celebrating with supporters at the Parched Pig, said “she’s excited to take it to the next level” with two more weeks to go. Her experience buying a home, raising a family and having to live with the decisions of City Council set her apart, she said.
“I think it’s an issue of maturity, life experience and the ability to take the information that you have and make sound decisions with that information,” Litt said.
Russo, the son of the longtime councilman and former mayor of the same name, said it’s not his age but his work with community leaders that matters.
“Their concern is to have the most qualified councilman up there, and they know that’s me,” he said.
“First and foremost, I think that people will see that I am the most knowledgeable, I am the most proactive, and I am the most accessible candidate.”
The three seats opened by term limits, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November 2014. Marcie Tinsley, Eric Jablin and Bert Premuroso were not eligible to seek another three-year term because of the retroactive limits.
City Council members are elected at-large, meaning voters choose one candidate for each seat, regardless of where they live. Every resident who is registered to vote in the city can vote in the runoff.
In an unrelated ballot question Tuesday, homeowners in the Palm Beach County neighborhoods of Carleton Oaks and Osprey Isles voted to be annexed into Palm Beach Gardens.