Busy Election Season Gets Underway In Wellington

Four of five seats on the Wellington Village Council will be up for grabs on March 15, 2016 — and the fifth could become vacant should Councilwoman Anne Gerwig choose to challenge Mayor Bob Margolis.

The formal qualifying period opens at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 24 and closes at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 8. That is months earlier than the normal filing deadline, which is usually in February. However, the 2016 municipal election will be held concurrently with Florida’s presidential primary, and the state requires an earlier ballot deadline.

Seats up for election include:

• The Mayor’s Seat, currently held by Mayor Bob Margolis. Finishing up his first four-year term, Margolis has announced his intention to run for re-election and has already accumulated a sizable campaign war chest. Margolis currently has no formal challenger, but Gerwig’s name is the one most often mentioned.

• Seat 1, currently held by Vice Mayor John Greene. Also finishing up his first four-year term, Greene has so far drawn one challenger — attorney Michael Drahos, who serves on Wellington’s Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board.

• Seat 3, currently held by Councilman John McGovern. McGovern was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Howard Coates upon his elevation to a judgeship. McGovern has announced that he will run for the remaining two years of Coates’ term. He is unchallenged so far. Should he win, McGovern would face the electorate again in 2018.

• Seat 4, currently held by Councilman Matt Willhite. Willhite will leave office due to term limits. He has already announced plans to seek a State House seat. Seat 4 has so far drawn two candidates: attorney Michael Napoleone and community activist Bart Novack.

Napoleone said that he is running because he has deep ties to the village.

“I’ve got a young family, a 10-year-old and a 2-year old. I have a long-term vested interest in how the community develops and grows over the next 10 or 20-plus years,” he said. “I care about how our village is governed. I care about how our money is spent. I care about how we are viewed by the outside world, and I care about what our future is going to look like, because the Wellington we build today is the Wellington our children are going to inherit.”

Napoleone recently replaced Michelle McGovern, the wife of Councilman McGovern, on the village’s Charter Review Committee. She resigned when her husband was appointed to the council.

He has also been active in the village through his son’s youth sports and scouting group. “I’ve always been active in his schooling and his school events,” Napoleone said, adding that his son went to preschool locally and currently attends Binks Forest Elementary School.

He said his activities have always been public service-oriented. “I was Palm Beach County Bar president, and I’m vice chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County,” Napoleone said. “I’ve always had a desire for public service and giving back to my community.”

He added that he attends council meetings regularly. “I’m pretty plugged into what’s going on,” Napoleone said.

Novack, a 14-year resident, could not be reached for comment. However, when announcing his candidacy last month, he wrote that he has served the community coaching two girls soccer teams, and that even when his daughter was no longer playing, he continued as a coach for many years.

He has worked in construction in different capacities from a laborer to boss. Novack also noted that he has been an outspoken voice in the community and at Wellington Village Council meetings for many years, stressing that he aims to help others without the thought of personal gain.

As a councilman, Novack said, “I will support equal rights for the rich and the poor, complete transparency, public policy and community outreach. I want to protect our bedroom community with low taxes, responsible growth and management. I will not divide our community, and, instead, will try to unite us.”

Margolis said that he is willing to hold his record up to anyone who comes forward to challenge him. “I’ve said all along that every member of the council is equal in the amount of power that they have,” he said. “We all have one vote, and the mayor is no different.”

He pointed out that the mayor’s job, besides running the meeting, is ceremonial at events, but he has changed his method of presiding to fit with council members’ desires.

“I’m a little bit more flexible in running the meetings than other mayors, and the reason I do that is because I don’t want to stifle conversation,” Margolis said. “I know we’re guided by a certain set of rules. There are probably thousands of pages of Robert’s Rules of Order, but if you look at the reason it started, it was for a different type of governing body than we have.”

In the beginning, Margolis said he tried to abide by Robert’s Rules, and council members did not seem to want to abide by that.

“Having been on the council before, I didn’t like my opinions stifled,” he said. “I’m a big believer that if you don’t like my opinion, don’t vote like I vote. I don’t believe council members are up there to argue with each other about their own opinions, which we do. It’s very difficult, quite frankly, to govern with some of the arguments that we have had for the last number of years, but it wasn’t any different than the council that we had before. It’s just different players.”

He feels that all council members are entitled to their own opinions. “We all are committed to the same thing, and that is to make the Village of Wellington the best it can be,” Margolis said. “We all have different views on how it can be. If you look at the Village of Wellington, there’s nothing bad about it. Property values are great, our schools are great, our parks and rec is great. We’re building a new community center. We built a new tennis center.”

Yet if people look for the bad in everything, they will find something, he said.

“I feel sorry for the people who want to look for the bad in everything,” Margolis said. “I think if you look at the beginning of this council, and where we are today, we have gone in a direction where this place gets complimented all the time.”

Gerwig, who has been considering a run for mayor, said she is still undecided because she would either have to resign outright to get her seat on the ballot, or resign effective after the election, which would throw the appointment to the council.

“My situation is that if I run, my seat cannot go on the ballot,” she said. “Because I would resign to run, my resignation is not effective until the date you would take the other office, which would be the week after the election.”

She said she asked for an opinion on the vacancy from the Florida Elections Commission but has not received an answer.

“If I resign to run, which I have to do to qualify, could my seat go on the ballot? At this point, the Election Commission attorney has not answered that question. They have not given us any information,” Gerwig said. “At this point, it looks like my seat would not go on the ballot, and that means after the election, the four council members would appoint the seat. That’s not that unusual, but for me, I don’t like that. I’d prefer to have the public pick their servant, so it adds a question.”

Gerwig said that she would like to run for mayor because she does not feel that Margolis runs the meetings efficiently.

“It’s a Catch-22, and I have to determine what’s best for me and my family, and what’s best for the village,” she said. “Officially, I have not made up my mind yet.”

Gerwig noted that many people have told her that she should stay where she is and not run. “I understand that, but I’ve never been the kind of person to sit on my hands,” she said.

Anyone interested in running for a council seat in Wellington should call Village Clerk Awilda Rodriguez at (561) 791-4118 for more information.


  1. These are great question. Ones that will never be asked at a debate and if you ask council or staff they will never answer you. But yet things get done without ever being transparent to the public. lol We the people should have a say.Thats politics,leaving out the public and just have an open check book with our money and if they need more ,just raise our taxes to provide a better way for ones that don’t need it on the taxpayer back.
    Our Village deserve who they vote for and if you don’t vote,don’t complain.I don’t think you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollar to be in office.There needs to be a spending cap like $25,000 for local elections and spend it wisely to win.This way the playing field is evan of the ones who may not have backers with war chest.I think self funding is best so there is no payback up the road.But that is politic never get what we are promise never given a straight answer and will ask you for all kinds of paperwork to delay items.

  2. Just plain tired of the vague, general ‘goals’ of the candidates.

    All candidates need to be held to specifics when it comes to issues in Wellington.

    1. What is their position on Kpark
    2. What is their position on the Bink’s golf course purchase
    3. What is their plan for improving the older neighborhoods in Wellington, not just the rental areas
    4. What is their position on future annexation
    5. What is their plan for efficient Council meetings
    6. What is their plan for the aging commercial sites within Wellington
    7. What is their plan for the office building the Village bought
    8. What is their plan for funding road construction costs
    9. What is their plan for beautification in Wellington
    10. What is their plan for other golf course purchases
    11. What is their plan for paving in the equestrian preserve
    12. Will they inject/push party politics into the Village
    13. What are their thoughts on a paying for a trolley system
    14. What will they do about thoroughfare hedging
    15. What is their plan for keeping Wellington in good financial shape
    16. How will they talk to staff in public settings
    17. Do they support keeping washingtonian palms along Aero Club Dr
    18. Does Wellington need public stables
    19. Where should future cell phone towers be placed
    20. How do they plan to tighten, improve code enforcement
    21. Should roads be seal cracked or completely paved
    22. Should Wellington eliminate vegetative cans and allow residents to place vegetation anytime they want on swales.
    23. How would they go about appointing a new council person
    24. What are their thoughts on widening Forest Hill (DOT plans to widen bridge at Southern), future underpass or overpass at FH and SR7
    25. How will they keep abreast of public concerns throughout the year

    Let’s hope the Town Crier will seek specifics from all candidates and not accepts broad, vague, ambiguous answers from them.

    There should be many meet the candidates Q and A sessions that all interested residents could attend and ask questions.

    Be a savvy Wellington resident and not accept these vague answers from candidates for the Council.

    Hold their feet to the fire!

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