Election 2018: Gregg Weiss to face write-in for county commission

The third time is the charm for Gregg Weiss.

Weiss, 61, claimed victory in Tuesday’s primary election for the Palm Beach County Commission District 2 seat. The win lands him a spot on the November ballot where he will face off with only a write-in candidate, what he called a “formality.”

While this is Weiss’ first attempt at a county seat, he ran unsuccessfully for spots on the West Palm Beach City Commission in 2008 and 2013.

“We’ve run a grass-roots campaign. We focused on bringing people together in the community, focused on the issues and running a positive campaign,” Weiss said Tuesday night from his watch party at Okeechobee Steakhouse’s 1947 Catering. “I think that looking to the future to focus on things that bring people together is what I’d like to do and I look forward to helping move our community forward and reaching out to all facets of our community.”

RELATED: Results from Tuesday’s election

Weiss will replace Paulette Burdick, who was blocked from running again because of term limits. Burdick, a Democrat who was elected to her seat in 2010, initially threw her support behind her aide, Peyton McArthur, but he withdrew from the race after failing to resign from his post as a Port of Palm Beach commissioner.

Burdick did not endorse Weiss or his competitors Sylvia Sharps, 53, and Emmanuel Morel, 58.

“I enjoyed the race. And I’m going to do it again,” Sharps said Tuesday evening, adding that she does not know what seat she would run for. “Gregg is a great guy. I’m not angry because I lost. I’m sad. I would have loved to have won. He’s going to be a good commissioner. I’ll be working with him wherever he wants me to.”

Weiss did receive endorsements from county commissioners Mack Bernard and Mary Lou Berger, among several other county and state elected officials. Weiss raised about $153,000 and lent himself about $50,000, according to campaign records submitted to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office. Weiss’ $153,000 is about 12 times more than what Sharps and Morel raised combined.

RELATED: Full coverage of Tuesday’s vote

The primary race was open to only Democratic voters. Weiss’ name will appear on the November ballot with a blank space for a write-in candidate, Mary Kaye Bates.

The District 2 seat carries a four-year term with a $99,997 annual salary. The district stretches from Lantana Road to north of Okeechobee Boulevard and from the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach to Sansburys Way/Lyons Road in the west.

Major issues the county commission is facing include workforce housing, development in the Agricultural Reserve and how to balance a budget if voters pass an additional homestead exemption in November. Weiss said the workforce housing buyout fee for developers is too low and he supports the rules in place for the Ag Reserve. As far as the homestead exemption, Weiss said the county should not compensate the loss by increasing the tax rate. He said he’d rather look at eliminating county positions that aren’t filled and look at eliminating failing programs. 

Weiss is the vice chair of the West Palm Beach’s planning board, the vice chair of the Palm Beach County Citizen’s Committee on Airport Noise, the president of the West Palm Beach Police Foundation and founder and treasurer of Speak Up For Kids, a nonprofit that raises money to support the county’s guardian ad litem program.

Now retired, Weiss spent six years as the sales director and then director of product division at Ingram Micro Inc, a worldwide technology company based in California. Before that, he worked at Source Electronics International, Objective Software, JWP, The University of Michigan and Victor Technologies. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and social ecology from the University of California-Irvine.

On Aug. 1, the Florida Commission on Ethics dismissed a complaint against Weiss, pertaining to a vote he took on West Palm’s planning board, as legally insufficient. The complaint dealt with Weiss’ decision to recuse himself from a vote on whether to recommend creation of an Okeechobee Business District. The West Palm Beach City Commission two weeks ago approved creating the district. The Palm Beach County Commission has strongly urged the city to press pause in lieu of a state study that would evaluate the potential traffic impact.

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