Candidates for mayor and city commissioner found themselves contending with many of the same issues that have vexed their predecessors, some going back for years:
— How to develop the city they call “The Village by the Sea” without losing its character.
— Monitoring the growth of sober houses.
— How to make West Atlantic Avenue a commercial hub for nearby residents.
— Crime and the perception of crime.
A wild-card issue, the future of the Arts Garage, arose in late February and has continued to simmer, especially among opponents of incumbent mayor Tom Carney.
Arts Garage supporters appeared to line up against Carney almost immediately. A website, Truth4Delray.com, criticized Carney for not allowing discussion at a Feb. 12 meeting.
The website also points the finger at Carney for allowing a $65 million, eight-year garbage contract to be approved without being sent out for bid. In the eyes of his detractors, Carney ended up as allowing the no-bid contract, even though he voted against it.
Another issue, which enraged residents in 2012, was Atlantic Plaza II, a high-density commercial-residential project, was approved by a 3-2 margin. Residents promptly sued to halt the project. Cary Glickstein, Carney’s opponent, opposes Atlantic Plaza II and Carney voted against it.
It was almost as if Carney had been made the surrogate for Woodie McDuffie, whom he replaced as mayor. He was put in the position of insisting he was his own man.
“I was vocal against Atlantic Plaza II,” said Carney at a recent candidates forum.
“Sitting on the dais, you have to take other commissioners’ viewpoints into consideration. You can’t browbeat them. All I can do is make the argument. You don’t know what it’s like to sit up there,” he added, addressing Glickstein, a political newcomer.
Carney also reminded voters that he worked to control the proliferation of sober houses, transient housing for recovering substance abusers. He arranged to work with lobbyists to draft legislation that would regulate sober houses.
“I’m glad you’re doing something,” shot back Glickstein at the same forum. “For two years you did nothing, while the problem proliferated.
“I’m proud of what I did. I galvanized my neighborhood. Had we not stood up to you and the commission, who were silent to the problem. By your silence and lack of action, the problem proliferated for years and when it came back you kicked it down the road.”
Garbage was also a focal point for frustration.
Asked at a forum which commission actions of the past two years were a mistake, commissioner candidate Shelly Petrolia answered, “The one that stands out the most would be not bidding the waste management contract in excess of $64 million for eight years.
“Every single town around us is getting a nice big fat reduction or maybe even a little bonus and all we got was a couple of solar-powered waste cans. That was wrong. We could have left tens of millions of dollars on the table.”
The Arts Garage, a pocket-sized downtown music and theater venue in the Pineapple Grove arts district, emerged as a polarizing issue after a law firm offered to buy its first-floor space for $2.5 million. Bob Schmier, a developer, offered an identical sum, promising to keep the Arts Garage in its prime position for pedestrian traffic.
The commission was then in the awkward position of having to choose between a popular arts venue and the law firm Kanner & Pintaluga, which promised to double its 100 employees if it purchased the 10,000 square-foot Arts Garage space.
Sign-carrying Arts Garage supporters were incensed when Carney described their efforts as a “manufactured crisis” and urged the commission not to make a hasty decision, suggesting instead that the parties compromise, perhaps on a piece of land on West Atlantic in the area governed by the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Attorney Howard Kanner suggested that his agent had been rebuffed by the Community Redevelopment Agency when he expressed interest in developing a piece of land on West Atlantic Avenue. The leader of the CRA, which owns the land, said the CRA merely informed Kanner that the land must be offered for public bid, a process that can take several months.
West Atlantic, with its alternating vacant lots and a few shops, has the gap-toothed look of a forgotten street while East Atlantic has become an entertainment and shopping destination whose sidewalks are usually packed with pedestrians.
“Our tax dollars have helped the financial development on East Atlantic, but we are not being treated as stakeholders by the CRA,” said west side activist Chuck Ridley, who wondered why nobody directed Kanner & Pintaluga to available space on Federal Highway.
Ridley worries that the few available acres on West Atlantic will be chipped away by businesses like Kanner & Pintaluga, making it impossible to bring in services that will benefit the surrounding residents.
Term: Two years Salary: $12,000 annually
Thomas Carney (i)
Personal: 59, married.
Education: BS, Spring Hill College. Juris Doctor, Boston College Law School, LLM, Georgetown University Law School.
Professional: Partner, Carney Stanton; former founder of Carney Bank and Carney Legal Group; former tax counsel; Ways and Means committee, U.S. House of Representatives; legislative attorney, Internal Revenue Service .
Political: Delray city commissioner, 2011-2012, vice mayor, 2012-2013; Community Redevelopment Agency, chairman 2008-2011.
Issues: Jobs and economic development. Drafted an ordinance to regulate sober houses. Supports bringing all city agencies, CRA, housing authority and Downtown Development Agency under Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics. Wants to reinstitute town hall meetings twice a year. Supports bidding out city contracts.
Personal: 53, divorced, three children.
Education: BA, University of Hawaii, JD, University of Miami.
Professional: home builder, attorney.
Political: first time candidate, member and chairman of Planning and Zoning Board.
Issues: Opposes awarding of no-bid contract for city garbage services; supports sustainable solutions to preserve city’s character, fiscal discipline, jobs and schools.
Commission Seat 3
Term: two years Salary: $9,000 annually
Personal: 52, married, two sons, Delray Beach resident 30 years.
Education: Some college, trade school.
Professional: AC tech, television production, welder and real estate.
Political: First-time candidate.
Issues: Lack of decision-making on the commission. Resolve budget issues. More activities for teenagers. More jobs. Improve West Atlantic Avenue.
Personal: 39, single.
Education: Some college.
Professional: Licensed real-estate broker.
Issues: Attract new businesses; support existing businesses. Keep residents safe. Smart economic growth and community development. Wants strict regulatory standards for transient housing and sober houses.
Personal: 49, married, four sons .
Education: Degree in finance, risk management from Florida State University.
Professional: Real estate broker.
Political: First-time candidate; Delray Beach Housing Authority commissioner.
Issues: Supports balancing city budget, stopping no-bid contracts, expanding development past east Atlantic Avenue, focusing on West Atlantic and Congress Avenue corridors. Supports only development that maintains the city’s character.
Delray Beach Charter amendments
Clarify and enhance the readability of the charter (Ordinance No. 35-12 / Section 8): Proposes to amend the city’s charter to clarify, correct grammatical errors and enhance the charter’s readability.
Change the length of the mayor and commission terms (Ordinance No. 36-12): Would provide for a change in the length of a Commissioner’s term from two years to three years and not extending the maximum number of consecutive years — six — that a commissioner or mayor is allowed to serve.
Extension of consecutive year term limits (commissioner elected to serve as mayor) (Ordinance No. 38-12): Currently, any city commissioner that assumes the office of mayor cannot exceed the maximum of three, two-year terms. The proposed amendment provides that the time a person spent as a commissioner will not count towards the term limit for mayor, if the person assumes the office of mayor directly from the office of commissioner.
City Manager Compensation (Ordinance No. 39-12): Removes charter language that prohibits a reduction in the city manager’s salary.
Voting Procedure Change (Ordinance No. 01-13 ): Would permit the city commission to adopt voting procedures and rules for all city commission meetings. Additionally, this proposed amendment would remove the current requirement that all commission votes must be made in the affirmative (“yes”). The commission would maintain the need to obtain three concurring votes on any action for it to be approved or not approved.
Economic development: Property tax exemptions to qualified businesses (Ordinance No. 44-12): Enables the city commission to grant property tax exemptions to new businesses as well as growing or existing businesses that create new, full-time employment opportunities. This incentive is available to local governments by the state constitution, provided it is approved by referendum.