Residents gathered outside the Wellington municipal complex Tuesday, April 10 to watch as a landmark municipal election came to an end.
Nearly a month after voters went to the polls, election winners Mayor Bob Margolis, Councilman Matt Willhite and Councilman John Greene took the oath of office.
“I’m really humbled by this turnout,” Margolis said. “It has been a long month since the election, and I think all three of us feel like we’ve been through three elections. I think we will go down in history as having one of the longest municipal elections, certainly in the State of Florida.”
The Wellington election took a tumultuous turn last month when it was discovered that the results of the March 13 election had been incorrectly tallied on election night. After nearly a month of meetings, lawsuits and court hearings, an official hand recount was ordered to determine the true winners of the election.
Margolis received 2,947 votes (50.6 percent) to Mayor Darell Bowen’s 2,877 votes (49.4 percent). Meanwhile, Greene took 2,957 votes (51.85 percent) to Shauna Hostetler’s 2,745 votes (48.15 percent) in the Seat 1 race. Willhite easily won the Seat 4 race, taking 3,342 votes (58.07 percent) to former Councilman Al Paglia’s 2,412 votes (41.93 percent).
Margolis urged the community to come together to focus on Wellington’s future. “Tonight starts a new day,” he said, “a new day in moving the village forward. Rest assured that your vote did count… and that we only have good things to come.”
Greene wanted to assure all residents that he would be an advocate for the things that matter to them.
“My job is to support every resident in the Village of Wellington,” he said. “Regardless of where you stood on the issues, I give you my pledge that I will work hard for you with every council member, staff member and resident to ensure that this remains the best place to live.”
Willhite said that he was grateful for the support from the community. “This is the most exciting $144 rollercoaster that I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding,” he said, referring to the filing fee to run for election in Wellington.
He said that he would continue to be committed to making Wellington a great place to live.
“This is a great hometown and a great community,” he said. “We are going to continue to do great things for you. Anything we can do for you, know our doors are always open. We’re receptive to the needs of this community.”
He said that swearing in council members symbolized a new start.
“It’s time to put all the things that have happened in the last few months behind us,” he said, “and look forward to the future and the beneficial things we will do for this community.”