- By The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board
With Paulette Burdick leaving the Palm Beach County Commission because of term limits, three Democrats are vying in the Aug. 28 primary to succeed her. The candidates are from District 2, in the central part of the county.
Our choice is Gregg Weiss, a former technology executive who is using his retirement to immerse himself in civic activities.
Though never elected to office, the 61-year-old Weiss currently sits on the West Palm Beach Planning Board and the county’s Citizens Committee on Airport Noise.
He also lists a slew of involvements, ranging from the West Palm Beach Police Department Citizens Observer Patrol to the Martin Luther King Jr. Coordinating Committee and Florida Earth Foundation. He founded a group to provide neglected and abused children with guardian ad litem advocates, called Speak Up For Kids of Palm Beach County. He holds positions with SunFest and the Palm Beaches Marathon Festival.
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As a commissioner, Weiss says he will advocate strongly for affordable housing. One idea: raise the buyout fee that developers can pay in lieu of building a required number of lower-cost units. He supports the existing restrictions in the Agricultural Reserve. He wants to deter sprawl, more generally, by encouraging development eastward, “closer to where the jobs are.”
“We have shopping centers that are out of business or almost going out of business. That land could be repurposed for mixed-use developments with housing, restaurants, entertainment, grocery stores — little town centers if you will,” he told The Post Editorial Board.
Weiss says he’ll urge countywide planning for sea-level rise. He’ll look for ways to partner with ride-hailing companies to increase options for public transit.
He is opposed by Sylvia Sharps, a former grants writer and special projects coordinator for the county Water Utilities Department. A citizen activist, she describes herself as “a domestic violence survivor who provides a listening ear and a list of resources for the person who is in a domestically violent relationship or for that single mother or father who works two jobs … being taken advantage of by a landlord.”
Sharps, too, is a strong advocate for the Ag Reserve. She wants the county to bolster education to prepare young people for higher-paying jobs.
A third candidate, Emmanuel Morel, a retired federal investigator who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014 and the Florida Senate in 2016, did not meet with the Editorial Board.
Read all of The Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.
Correction: This story originally said that voting in this race would be countywide. In fact, voting is confined to the district.