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Greenacres: Pearce reclaims former seat, Dugo re-elected

Former city councilman Jonathan Pearce won back his District 4 seat from Councilman Anderson Thelusme Tuesday night, while Councilwoman Judy Dugo easily defeated Brian Willever in her District 3 re-election bid.

With all of the city’s 16 precincts counted, all six charter amendment questions also passed.

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Greenacres was one of four cities where the ballot counting was delayed Tuesday night because a counting machine at the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections’ Summit Boulevard collection site couldn’t read cartridges from the polling places. The other cities were Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. The ballot cartridges were finally taken to the elections office’s counting center in Riviera Beach at about 11 p.m. to complete the ballot tally.

“Tell my true opponent that he has lost and that it’s time let go and let Greenacres grow,” Dugo, 70, said in winning Tuesday night. “I’m so enthusiastic because we have so many visions of our city and it’s on the move. We can make it Greenacres where it’s not just a city you drive through, but it can be one of the greatest neighborhoods.”

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Dugo, who is retired, was first elected in 2014 and reelected two years later.

Pearce, who stepped down from the District 4 seat to run for mayor two years ago, said he was ecstatic about his victory. “I did things completely different this time,” he said. “I implemented a game plan and stuck to it.”

For instance, Pearce, 59, said he analyzed the areas where he did poorly the last time and focused on that.

During his previous time on the council, Pearce was often a polarizing figure. President and CEO of DMJ Holdings, he sparred with then Mayor Sam Ferreri publicly at council meetings and tried firing former City Attorney Pam Terranova, who had already announced she was retiring.

The referenda approved by voters will:

  • Change the term of office for mayor and council members from two years to four years.
  • Let the council appoint a council member to fill a vacant mayor’s seat.
  • Let the council fill empty council seats with temporary appointments.
  • Set terms limits at three consecutive terms for the mayor as mayor and three consecutive terms for council members as council members.
  • Require approval of voters for outsourcing the police and fire-rescue departments.
  • Require the city manager and city attorney to be hired and fired by a full council, which is defined as the mayor and council.

The ballot questions came from recommendations from a Charter Review Committee that the mayor and council appointed in 2016.

Dugo said she was a proponent of the Committee and thought they did a great job. “Their research was excellent,” she said. “Going from two to four years for the mayor and council members, people will find that very receptive.”

Pearce also thought all the questions were fine, but said he didn’t focus on them for his campaign. “As a challenger, I was focusing on trying to get reelected,” he said. “I wasn’t going in and telling anyone to vote for this or vote for that. I figured if I did, someone would get upset.”

Thelusme, 32, who was appointed to the District 4 seat after Pearce stepped down, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

Willever, 50, who runs Royal Wellington Pharmacy, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Staff writer Christine Stapleton contributed to this story.

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