Political newcomer Michael Peragine topped the $100,000 mark in campaign contributions in his effort to unseat Group 3 City Councilman Eric Jablin, the most collected in any race in recent memory.
The 21-year-incumbent also rousted his supporters, who brought his total to nearly $40,000 in January, up $28,000 from the month before.
According to candidate filings submitted Feb. 10, Group 5 Council Member Marcie Tinsley raised $7,355 in January, bringing her total to just under $30,000. Challenger Robin Deaton raised almost as much during the month, $7,208, but overall has raised about one-third as much as the incumbent, $10,110.
The candidates face off in the March 11 city election, in races that got an initial boost from community anger over a proposal to turn a 117-acre site designated for park land into a spring training complex for the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays. Although the city council has since dropped consideration of the site, the need for government transparency has remained a key issue for both challengers’ campaigns.
A third seat, for Group 1, went automatically to Mayor Bert Premuroso, who raised $12,650 but didn’t draw a challenger.
In all, the five candidates have raised $193,590, with a month to go before the election. The job pays $26,290.
Peragine, homeowners association president at Mirabella at Mirasol, said the size of his campaign coffer “is a testament to how much people want change in Palm Beach Gardens.”
People support his message about term limits and open government — he helped lead the push against the stadium proposal — but they’re also “upset about Jablin and what’s happening in the Gardens,” he said. In all, Peragine has raised $101,245, including $29,645 in January.
Fourteen of his 46 contributors during January had out-of-state addresses. He said the out-of-town contributions come mainly from people who are snowbirds and also have homes locally. Among his other local contributors was Sid Dinerstein, former chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County, who gave $500.
To date, Peragine has spent $15,464, according to papers filed Feb. 10 with the city clerk. He has been airing radio ads and has television commercials in production, he said. But he said most of his campaign spending will be for a direct-mail campaign.
A number of Jablin’s contributors are associated with the Gardens Mall and the PGA Corridor Association, a business group whose leaders supported the stadium proposal and argued that it would help the local economy. He ultimately voted against the proposal but was seen by many as an early advocate.
Jablin has said his priority is growth management and maintaining the quality of development in the city.
He opposes a proposed flyover of Northlake Boulevard near the Beeline Highway west of his PGA National neighborhood, saying it would encourage overdevelopment to the west, the Avenir project at the former Vavrus Ranch.
“I am also concerned about any attempt to lengthen the runway at the North County Airport,” he said. “I am uniquely qualified to address these issues specifically because I have been in office so long,” he said, rejecting the call for term limits.
Deaton said residents have said they want the council to pay more attention to the eastern part of the city, and to make sure code enforcement is applied consistently. She also supports more openness in government, including broadcasting of city council meetings.
The flyover might be needed to prevent accidents and improve traffic flow at a difficult intersection, she said. She criticized her opponent for bringing up the matter at the end of the council’s Feb. 6 meeting without notice and said the public needs to be involved in the discussion. The move reflected a lack of concern for transparency, Deaton said.
Tinsley recommended, and got the unanimous consent of her colleagues, to authorize Jablin, the city’s representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, to express the council’s objection to the flyover.
“Since my opponent has never attended a council meeting until recently, I can understand why she feels this way.” Tinsley said. “However, I brought the flyover up under ‘items of Council Discussion’ at our public hearing which is the most appropriate and most transparent place to discuss this with my fellow council members. Further, the flyover as proposed, opens the flood gates for intense western development,” she said.
“I have been a part of keeping Palm Beach Gardens on the right track as far as thoughtful, smart growth, protecting neighborhoods and being very fiscally disciplined,” Tinsley said.
Palm Beach Gardens campaign contributions
Robert Premuroso (i) — unopposed
- Raised: $12,650
- Spent: $507
Eric Jablin (i)
- Raised: $39,630
- Spent: $12,099
- Raised: $101,245
- Spent: $15,464
- Raised: $10,110
- Spent: $2,239
Marcie Tinsley (i)
- Raised: $29,955
- Spent: $6,088
(i) indicates incumbent
Source: City of Palm Beach Gardens