Delray Beach Commissioner Shelly Petrolia could have taken the “easy route,” as she described it, and run for re-election to her commission seat, which has drawn no applicants as of Thursday.
Instead, Petrolia is running for mayor in the March municipal election, which may include a race against her colleague Mayor Cary Glickstein, who has the option of running for re-election but hasn’t applied.
“One of the things I would bring to the position of mayor is some steady-handedness,” Petrolia, 54, said. “I’m very measured. I’m very consistent. That’s something this town needs in a position of leadership.”
She’s limited in her ability to make changes as a commissioner, she said, so she’s aiming for the city’s top seat.
“Our leader is our mayor. He sets the tone,” Petrolia said. “We have to have somebody in that position that’s going to make sure that that tone is stead, and kind in spirit.”
Petrolia, a real estate agent and mother to four teenage boys, was first elected to commission Seat 1 in 2013. She was unopposed and re-elected in 2015. She could have run for another three-year term to Seat 1, as the city’s term-limits were adjusted four years ago.
Glickstein, an attorney, was also elected in 2013, and again in 2015.
He would not comment on whether he’s planning to run for re-election.
“Right now I’m focused on continuing our Hurricane Irma recovery and working through the changes in our city administration,” Glickstein said in a text message to a Palm Beach Post reporter. “This is not the time for politics.”
Glickstein has time to file ahead of qualifying period, which will likely fall in December. The election is March 13.
Petrolia said the city lacks direction and stability.
“We’ve never really had a mission statement,” she said.
Petrolia’s focus, she said, will be setting goals for the city, streamlining city functions and restoring order to staff beginning at the top.
Delray Beach is in the midst of hiring a city manager to replace interim manager Neal De Jesus, the former fire chief. De Jesus has held the temporary spot for 10 months, although he originally signed on for just three months, he said.
Delray Beach’s reputation for “micromanagement and other negative things” drew few applicants for the top staff position, said W.D. Higginbotham of The Mercer Group, a management consulting firm hired by the city to find candidates.
As of September, Petrolia has raised more than $50,000 in campaign funding, half of which is self-financed, according to city records.
“I have such respect for Cary … ” Petrolia said. “It’s not my intention to challenge the mayor at all. It’s my intention to do what’s right for Delray Beach and to represent this town.”
Commissioner Mitch Katz also has applied for re-election to his seat on the commission. There have been no other applicants for the two commission seats and mayor’s seat, city records show.