- Wayne Washington Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Melissa McKinlay has been elected by her fellow Palm Beach County commissioners to the largely ceremonial post of county mayor during an organizational meeting Tuesday morning.
Commissioners then selected Commissioner Mack Bernard to serve as vice mayor, positioning him to succeed McKinlay.
Paulette Burdick is the out-going county mayor. Colleagues had once blocked her move from vice mayor to mayor, but she was chosen for the post after last year’s elections brought Bernard and Dave Kerner to the commission.
The county mayor presides over commission meetings, signs official communications on behalf of the county, represents the county at government functions and hosts an annual ball whose proceeds are used to combat homelessness. She and the vice mayor remain as voting members of the seven-person commission.
McKinlay, whose commission district includes most of western Palm Beach County, has been outspoken on the need to combat opioid abuse. She has also joined Burdick in pressing for more affordable housing.
Bernard, an African-American, attorney and the only minority on the commission, has sought to make sure appointed boards and commissions are diverse. He has also raised concerns about whether firms owned by women and minorities are getting a fair shot at county contracts.
In brief remarks after being chosen mayor, McKinlay thanked Burdick and gave a nod to Bernard.
“It has been a pleasure to sit next to you,” she said. “Vice Mayor Bernard, I’m excited to serve by your side.”
Burdick, a former Palm Beach County School Board member whose commission term ends next year, thanked her colleagues and County Administrator Verdenia Baker, whom she praised “for your professionalism and your leadership.”
In addition to affordable housing, Burdick has raised concerns about the environment, open space and agriculture, all of which she has said is threatened by development.