The countywide constitutional officer races on the ballot Tuesday saw three incumbents returned to office. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Public Defender Carey Haughwout and Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher all secured new four-year terms.
In the race to replacing retiring Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits, Chief Deputy Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks defeated County Commissioner Shelley Vana.
In the sheriff’s race, three-term incumbent Ric Bradshaw won 65.72 percent (104,112 votes) against challengers Alex Freeman (17.76 percent, 28,143 votes), Rick “Rosco” Sessa (9.57 percent, 15,165 votes) and Samuel Thompson (6.94 percent, 11,002 votes).
Bradshaw is happy with the percentage of the vote he received.
“It’s really about how well the sheriff’s office is doing. If people are happy with what you’re doing, and they’re getting good service, and they’re affecting the quality of life in the neighborhoods, then people are going to show their appreciation and give you another chance,” he said. “I think that is what they’re trying to tell us, that we’re doing a good job.”
However, Bradshaw isn’t overlooking those who did not vote for him.
“They have issues, and I think that this is a very good opportunity to reach out to the segment of the community that has issues that they want to talk about and make them inclusive going forward here for the next four years,” he said, “and say, ‘What is it that’s bothering you about how we’re doing things, or that we’re not doing things that you’d want us to do?’ and try to get the entire community to support us and go forward.”
Bradshaw feels it will give him an opportunity to learn how the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office can improve and have the support of the entire community.
Over the next four years, he wants to continue what the PBSO has been doing, such as keeping violent crime down by continuing the ongoing process of fighting gangs. “Nobody really does anything as much as we have to fight the gangs in this state; we’re the leader in that,” he said.
The PBSO shut down pill mills, including one in Wellington, and is now focusing on heroin abuse, which Bradshaw called an “epidemic.” He wants to dramatically reduce the number of heroin overdose deaths. Homeland Security is also of concern, and is a big part of making sure the county is safe, he said.
“Our priority is to make the community safe and make sure everyone is inclusive, our policies are where they need to be, and our neighborhoods are as safe as they can be so the quality of life in them is good,” he said.
Bradshaw is going to continue the work that he has been doing, utilizing his experience, leadership and established programs to keep the community safe, and learning from those who did vote for him and those who did not.
“The people who didn’t vote for us, and the people who say they have some issues, we need to bring them into the system,” he said. “We’ll try to make it better, but at least give them a voice in the process.”
In the public defender’s race, four-term incumbent Carey Haughwout won 53.30 percent (73,386 votes) to challenger Bill Abramson’s 46.70 percent (64,288 votes).
“I’m happy. I’m very pleased about the re-election,” Haughwout said. “I was hoping that’s what was going to happen, it’s what I thought would happen, and I’m relieved that it has.”
There are many initiatives in the works, Haughwout said, such as court advocacy issues with juveniles, significant changes to the laws for resentencing for juveniles sentenced to life, changes in the death penalty law and increasing confidence within the community regarding the court system.
“It’s something that I think we, as a justice system, need to seriously evaluate and look for solutions on how to ensure that all segments of the community feel fairly treated in the court system,” she said.
In the property appraiser’s race, Dorothy Jacks received 70.35 percent (105,778 votes), widely outpolling Shelley Vana’s 29.65 percent (44,573 votes).
Jacks is looking forward to taking over Jan. 3 after Nikolits retires.
“It’s very exciting. I feel as though we had a great campaign and really, my message of experience and qualifications resonated with the voters,” she said.
Many people are retiring, she explained, which provides the opportunities for positions to be filled.
“I’m looking forward to working on that in the next four months and just continuing the good work. The office never stops. We just recently mailed the proposed tax notices, are in the middle of the value petition filing period that will last until Sept. 16, and then we’ll roll into our actual petition period, so its busy, busy all the time,” Jacks said.
Her role as the chief deputy will continue until she transitions into the top job in the office.
In the race for supervisor of elections, two-term incumbent Susan Bucher took 76.73 percent (117,350 votes), well ahead of challenger Christine Spain, who received 23.27 percent (35,594 votes).
“I’m very honored that the voters in Palm Beach County allowed me another term as the supervisor of elections,” Bucher said.
There’s a lot of work to do, she said, to prepare for the November election.
“I think it’s one of the most important elections we’ll see in our historic times. After that, we have some projects. We’re hoping to try and work with the secretary of state to find new vendors for voting equipment; we’re eventually going to need to take a look at that. Right now, we’re operating with a staff of about 40 people, and we’re a very large and growing county,” Bucher said. “There are some goals, we’ve worked on a lot of technological issues, and we want to continue to do that.”
Screening and poll worker training, she said, has been updated, which is an important priority.
There will be runoff elections for two of the judicial seats on the ballot, Bucher said, where there were three candidates and no one received more than 50 percent.
In the two circuit court races, Group 1 incumbent Dina Keever was re-elected. She received 71.43 percent (102,519 votes) to Robert Ostrov’s 28.57 percent (41,010 votes). Group 4 will have a runoff between Gregory Tendrich, who received 48.68 percent (69,120 votes) and Luis “Lou” Delgado, who received 33.98 percent (48,246 votes). Jeremy Zubkoff received 17.34 percent (24,612 votes) in the Group 4 race and was eliminated.
In the three county court races, Group 7 incumbent Marni Bryson was re-elected, receiving 56.66 percent (80,653 votes) to Lisa Ann Grossman’s 43.34 percent (61,692 votes). Group 15 had Bradley Harper winning with 52.57 percent (75,547 votes) to Esther “Ettie” Feistmann’s 47.43 percent (68,151 votes). The Group 11 race will head to a runoff between Gregg Lerman, who took 35.18 percent (49,977 votes), and Dana Marie Santino, who took 33.53 percent (47,625 votes). Tom Baker took 31.29 percent (44,445 votes) and was eliminated.
ABOVE: Sheriff Rick Bradshaw