Promising to bring “a fresh perspective” to the West Palm Beach Commission, Christina D’Elosua Lambert won a close race Tuesday for a seat held by Shanon Materio for the past five years.
With all the city’s precincts counted, Lambert beat Materio by just 176 votes. Lambert had 51.2 percent of the vote, Materio 48.8 percent.
A second commission contest was not as close. Newcomer Kelly Shoaf won 71 percent of the vote for the District 1 seat, which came open with Commissioner Sylvia Moffett’s recent decision not to run. Shoat, a West Palm resident for a dozen years, had more than twice the votes of Martina Tate Walker.
“People were ready for a change,” Lambert said Tuesday during an election-night party at a CityPlace restaurant. “I heard that from the time I got into the race.”
Shoaf is vice president of purchasing for Chatham Lodging Trust, a hotel real estate investment trust. She’s a community activist who serves as secretary of the Old Northwood Neighborhood Association and once worked for the chamber of commerce.
Materio did not return phone calls to The Palm Beach Post for comment.
West Palm Beach was one of four cities where the ballot counting was delayed because a counting machine at the election office’s Summit Boulevard collection site couldn’t read cartridges from the polling places. The other cities were Lake Worth, Greenacres and Palm Beach. The ballot cartridges were finally taken to the elections office counting center in Riviera Beach at about 11 p.m. to complete the ballot tally.
The West Palm Beach commission campaigns focused on the city’s growth, traffic, livability and downtown development. Perhaps the key issue of the past year is whether developer Related Cos. should be allowed to build a 25-story office tower on a site zoned for a maximum of 5 stories and 300 feet from the Flagler Drive waterfront.
Materio voted against it, helping the commission reject the project by a 3-2 vote. But Lambert, and to some extent Shoaf, were seen as candidates who might reverse that vote and allow the office tower.
Lambert rejected the idea that the election was a referendum on the Related Cos. project. She said she wasn’t focused on just one issue.
“I think this was a referendum on wanting progress in our city,” Lambert said.
Mayor Jeri Muoio attended Lambert’s victory party and called her win “good for business.”
Lambert is a productivity specialist for Productive Power, former president and CEO of Education Foundation of Palm Beach and former executive director of Leadership Palm Beach.
“My philosophy on growth is to review: Are we meeting a need; is the community involved in the decision-making; what benefits is the project adding to the city; is the project contextually appropriate to its surroundings.I would want to make sure projects provide opportunities for local small-, minority- and women-owned businesses,” she said, adding that her experience in education would be a plus for the commission.
Materio, a longtime West Palm resident, is co-owner of McMow Art Glass, with offices in Lake Worth and West Palm. As District 5 commissioner, she has advocated for south end issues such as revitalization of the municipal golf course and tennis facilities and spearheaded forums on citywide transportation and school safety following the Parkland massacre.
Shoaf and Tate Walker joined the District 1 race after Moffett withdrew at the last minute, leaving no time for other potential candidates to jump in who might have if they’d known there’d be no incumbent.
Tate Walker, who lost in a landslide the last time she ran for the seat and had few contributions to support her this year, was seen as an underdog.
Staff writer Christine Stapleton contributed to this story.