On Tuesday, March 11, voters in Wellington and Royal Palm Beach will head to the polls for municipal elections. There are two council seats up for election in Wellington and the mayor’s seat up in Royal Palm Beach. Over the last two weeks, we have profiled all candidates running in this election cycle. The profiles were based on the candidates’ individual visits with the Town-Crier’s editorial board. After careful consideration, we issue the following endorsements in the races.
Wellington Village Council, Seat 2 — Four-year incumbent Councilwoman Anne Gerwig is facing a challenge from senior advocate Sharon Lascola for this seat.
Although a political newcomer, Ms. Lascola has proven that she cares deeply for Wellington’s community, especially its senior population. A senior herself, Ms. Lascola could be a voice for Wellington’s elder residents, pointing the council to issues that have been long overlooked in the village. She has been a vocal advocate of preserving Wellington’s green space, and her efforts align her more with sitting council members, who often disagree with her opponent. Ms. Lascola has proven she is smart, dedicated and willing to work. We believe there could be a council seat in Ms. Lascola’s future should she seek office again, but feel she should gain more experience in local government first — perhaps on the Senior Advisory Committee, where her ideas and passion for senior issues would be well served. No matter what she does, we would encourage her to stay involved.
Ms. Gerwig has served Wellington for four years and often presents an alternative view on the council, especially over the past two years. Ms. Gerwig has been a leader on and off the dais, championing many programs, such as the Senior Transportation And Rides (STAR) program, the Tiger Shark Cove playground rebuild and cultural events at the Wellington Amphitheater. She brings a business perspective to the council and has been an advocate for the growth of Wellington’s equestrian industry. Ms. Gerwig is often the voice of fiscal conservatism, something that has helped Wellington keep its budget and tax rate low, but she has also pushed to provide services to residents when needed. Further, she represents a portion of the population that would not otherwise have a voice on the council were she not re-elected. She has contributed a great deal, grown in stature over the past four years, and we feel it will benefit Wellington to continue having Ms. Gerwig’s perspective on the dais, even if it’s often as the dissenting voice.
Although both candidates exhibit passion and dedication for the village, Wellington is best served by having all voices represented, even if they don’t always win votes. The Town-Crier endorses the re-election of Anne Gerwig to Seat 2 on the Wellington Village Council.
Wellington Village Council, Seat 3 — In this race, incumbent Vice Mayor Howard Coates is being challenged by education advocate Matt Kurit.
Mr. Kurit displays clear passion for his community, from its schools to preserving its open space. A family man, he has been involved in youth sports, as well as sitting on Wellington’s Educational Advisory Board for four years. If elected, he would put his focus on education. However, education is the primary job of the Palm Beach County School District, not the Wellington Village Council, and Wellington, through a grant program, already does more for local schools than any other municipality in the county. Mr. Kurit stands behind preserving Wellington’s green space, while looking to make sure any development that does come before the council is in line with the village’s small-town atmosphere. His views align more with the current council majority, meaning Mr. Kurit will likely be able to easily find consensus on the dais. He has a lot to offer the community, and we hope he continues to stay involved in local politics if not elected.
Mr. Coates has been a strong voice for residents since he was appointed to the council in 2009. As an attorney, Mr. Coates brings an alternative legal perspective to the council, offering legal opinions alongside the village attorney. During his service, Mr. Coates has proven himself to be independent-minded and willing to listen to residents, often changing his initial opinion on an issue with clarification from residents. He has continually pushed for a lower tax rate and greater fiscal responsibility, and asked tough questions of staff and council members to bring information to light and keep residents informed. Mr. Coates has often been a voice of reason on the dais, and we feel he has more to offer. As Wellington continues to recover from tumultuous times, it will be beneficial to have an experienced council member who can help build bridges between opposing parties. The Town-Crier endorses the re-election of Howard Coates to Seat 3 on the Wellington Village Council.
Whether or not you agree with our opinions shared in this space, more important is that you make your way to the polls on Tuesday, March 11. Local elections tend to be low-turnout affairs, but they shouldn’t be. Show up and make your vote count!