In a battle between two Delray Beach colleagues for the mayor’s seat, five-year Commissioner Shelly Petrolia narrowly defeated one-year Commissioner Jim Chard in Tuesday’s municipal election.
The five-member commission too will welcome back former elected official Adam Frankel along with Ryan Boylston, who narrowly defeated incumbent Mitch Katz.
With all precincts reporting, Frankel, an attorney who served six years on the city commission until 2015, and Boylston, a local entrepreneur, appear to have defeated their opponents for Seats 1 and 3, respectively.
About 8,000 votes were counted in the election.
Frankel and Boylston will join Bill Bathurst, who was elected unopposed for Seat 2, abandonned by Chard when he ran for mayor. Bathurst, a realtor, sits on the city’s Historic Preservation Board and is an administrator on the popular online Facebook group Delray RAW.
The new commission will oversee growth planned along West Atlantic Avenue and the Congress Avenue corridor, address the departure of several high-ranking city staffers and continue regulation of the city’s sober home industry.
The big-ticket race pitted Petrolia against Chard, who both had a chance to keep their seats on the commission but elected to run for for Delray Beach’s top spot.
In an often-contentious race between colleagues, Petrolia, a real estate agent, held a close lead over Chard, a retired business executive.
“There could not have been any more diametrically opposed candidates in this race, and the people spoke loud and clear,” Petrolia said Tuesday. “I feel strongly that I got my message out and it was positively received.”
During her campaign, Petrolia emphasized regulating Delray’s sober home industry and approving or denying development that is compatible with downtown parking and traffic.
Chard said Tuesday that “it’s too early to tell” if he’ll stay involved in Delray Beach affairs, but hopes the new commission will work toward his vision of preserving Delray’s culture.
“We have a very strong culture of not-for-profits, arts and entertainment, and we need to build on that,” Chard said Tuesday.
During the campaign, the candidates agreed that development should be focused on West Atlantic Avenue, a mostly-blighted counterpart to the economically thriving East Atlantic Avenue. They also agreed that Congress Avenue needs attention.
A business owner and former chairman of the city’s Downtown Development Authority, Boylston, 35, said he aims to restore a “team” mentality by encouraging Delray’s many boards to collaborate on planning and projects. He also aims to advocate for Delray Beach’s struggling public schools, which average a C-minus grade.
Boylston and Katz, 46, could not be reached for comment.
Frankel, 46, defeated challengers Eric Camacho, an information-technology specialist and political novice, and Richard Alteus, a former police officer who ran for city commission last year and lost.
“It was a hard-fought race against two gentlemen who I respect for running civil campaigns,” Frankel said. “I look forward to returning to the Delray Beach commission for a fourth term.”
Frankel wants to address downtown parking problems, attract private investors, preserve green space and regulate sober homes.
Frankel wants to establish a $1,000 fee for transient homes that rent to new tenants more than three times a year. The fee would target the hundreds of sober homes in Delray Beach, but would affect those who use rental services like AirBnB. The money collected would go to code enforcement, tasked with regulating sober homes thanks to new city guidelines, Frankel said.