Letter: Partisan Politics Can Hurt the Best Candidate

It has been my observation that when a non-partisan election becomes partisan, the best qualified candidate, if he or she is not affiliated with one of the major political parties, may lose. That appears to be what happened in the recent election for seats on the Royal Palm Beach Village Council when Richard Valuntas lost his bid to retain his seat on the council. Similarly, that is why Michelle Santamaria lost her bid to fill the District 6 seat on the Palm Beach County Commissioner in that contest.

Richard lost to Selena Smith by a mere 161 votes because voters voted along party lines rather than considering who was most qualified for the job. The fact is that Richard Valuntas garnered more votes than either Martha Webster or Lenore White!

As for Martha Webster vehemently declaring at the recent council meeting that Richard Valuntas should not be appointed to fill the vacant seat because “the people have spoken,” I recall that “the people had spoken” three times before, yet that didn’t deter her from trying and losing a fourth time. Has she not yet heard the voice of the people?

Arlene Olinsky, Royal Palm Beach


  1. Since when does the council have to go to someone who has been on an advisory board. As I recall, Jeff Hmara sat on no advisory board or community board prior to his election. The tired old stuff needs to move on – that is what your and Arlene’s montra is with Webster, same for Valuntas. Odd how you make the rules you want. BTW if party won the day and not the best candidate then what does that say for Pinto and Hmara – democrats BTW both switched to dems in the past 2 years from NPA and Valuntas switched from a Rep to a NPA. Your probabilty on the stats does not work.

    • Congratulations, you can do a Google search. All candidate’s political affiliations and their histories are common knowledge. However, to what degree SHOULD that play when you’re voting for a local council member of a municipality? If you’ve listened to any of the debates, questions posed went towards the candidate’s level of experience, their stances on issues that pertain to the village itself. Not their political leanings; which speaks to the heart of Ms Olinsky’s letter. Now, considering that, an argument could have been made for Webster for mayor and possibly even Smith for council. But if you think for one second that Hmara would have lost that race to Lenore White and her “I haven’t done enough research to answer that question” ways just because he’s a democrat, you’re kidding yourself.

  2. Arlene Olinsky have you no shame – a bright young woman was selected as councilwoman and rather than support her and what she has to offer the Village in new ideas and character you slam her as well as Selena Smith who was elected to the council – fair and square! You have nothing good to say about anyone and stick to the opinion that you have been directed to tout. Not just a shame but a sham. The best candidate won the election and a great candidate was selected for council. Let Richard come back and run and be elected by the people – you know like Webster and Matula have done – women you criticize.

    • Interesting viewpoint. But the fact is, you’ve got a resident of the village who had no experience on any village advisory boards and a failed 2012 bid for council and now another resident who served 2yrs on an advisory board back in 2000. The voters and council traded that for a council member who served the residents of this village for 6 years. And based on what I could discern from Ms Olinsky’s letter, is far more disappointed that these positions are supposed to be non-partisan. As an independent voter, I too was let down by what appeared to be partisan politics on both sides. Former Councilman Valuntas did what he thought was right by staying out of all of that and just doing what was right for the residents.

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