Young versus old in Greenacres council race

Feb 26, 2018
Judy Dugo

It’ll be the younger versus the more experienced candidates in Greenacres City Council race in March.

Veteran councilwoman Judy Dugo, 70, will face Brian Willever, 50, a Wellington pharmacy owner, in the District III election while former councilman Jonathan Pearce, 59, goes against incumbent Anderson Thelusme, 32, a banker, in the District IV race.

Dugo, who is retired, was first elected in 2014 and reelected two years later. This will be Willever’s first run for office. “It’s been very challenging, but very exciting,” Willever said.

Pearce was elected in 2010 and stepped down in 2017 to run for mayor, a race he lost to Joel Flores, a political novice who is the membership director for the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce. Thelusme was appointed to the council in April after Pearce stepped aside.

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Dugo said she’s running to maintain a good vision for Greenacres, to grow the city and to keep it safe. “Greenacres is 90 percent built out, but I support the idea of an economic development professional that will help us build empty store fronts and to provide a lower tax rate,” she said. “We all agree we want economic growth, but we need someone to bring us together on what the vision of Greenacres is.”

She said crime has been reduced substantially since the city merged its 51-member police force with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office last year. “We had five homicides in 2015 for the year and in 2017, we had one,” she said. “Safe cities will bring us better neighborhoods and more business.”

Willever, who runs Royal Wellington Pharmacy, said he can bring a unique perspective to government because he’s a business owner and health care provider. “My wife and I own a long-term care pharmacy, so we understand the ins and outs of what (money) is available county, state as well as Federal,” Willever said. “We want to expand on those ideologies.”

Unlike Dugo, Willever didn’t support the PBSO merger. “The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has done a great job, but they are extremely expensive for us to maintain and I don’t think anyone knows how we’re going to pay for it in the future,” he said. “PBSO is a contractor. They’re not our employees, so they kind of dictate what we need to pay for their services.”

Thelusme, a banker at Wells Fargo in West Palm Beach, has been involved in Greenacres since 2011, working on various committees. “I have a financial background and I believe I can use my knowledge and experience to complement the current council and to help the city move forward,” he said.

He said Greenacres isn’t where it needs to be on economic development. “Right now the city is very diverse and we need different things for different communities,” he said. “We have to make sure no one is being left behind.”

Pearce, often a polarizing figure on the council, said he’d like to keep taxes low, keep Greenacres financially responsible and to grow more businesses. “We need to find other ways to bring revenue into the city,” Pearce said. “We have to expand our bank registration-foreclosure program and be more indulgent on code enforcement by adding more people.”

He also wants to get the city’s fire department accredited. “It’s a two-year process, but then we can apply for all the grant money that’s out there instead of the small portion the federal government offers.”

During his time on the council, Pearce, president and CEO of DMJ Holdings, sparred with Sam Ferreri publicly at council meetings and tried firing former City Attorney Pam Terranova, who had already announced she was retiring .

Thelusme called Pearce a “bully.”

Pearce’s response?

“No comment,” he said.