Former Loxahatchee Groves Councilwoman Marge Herzog defeated incumbent Vice Mayor Dave DeMarois in the race for Loxahatchee Groves Town Council Seat 5 on Tuesday, March 17.
Herzog took the seat with 335 votes (57.5 percent), while DeMarois garnered 248 votes (42.5 percent), according to unofficial returns from the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office.
All three referendum questions passed easily. Ballot Question 1 cleaning up the town charter passed 439 (73.2 percent) to 161 (26.8 percent). Question 2 limiting the appointed mayor’s position to two consecutive one-year terms passed 500 (82.6 percent) to 105 (17.36 percent). Question 3 limiting council members to serving two consecutive three-year terms unless there is a minimum break of one election cycle passed 482 (83.7 percent) to 94 (16.3 percent).
Herzog credits her victory to an election strategy she used, calling voting residents in Loxahatchee Groves and asking them to vote and call five other voters asking them to vote as well.
“The residents were asked to take a challenge from me. My challenge was that I would call every registered voter on the list that has contact information,” she said, adding that she told them that she was not asking for a donation, but asking them to reach out to five of their friends and make sure they vote. “I said, hopefully, that they would vote for me. I think the difference in the count was significantly similar to the people who I reached out to. I think it was the residents who made this happen.”
She noted that there were 1,666 names on the list of voting residents, but not all had working contact numbers.
“It was difficult to reach every one of those, but there was a significant number. People were coming up to me at the election place and they were saying, ‘Which one of you is Marge? I have never had anyone call and ask to speak to me about how I can give you input for the job that you’re taking on.’ That made me feel good. People did return the call when I asked them to call back, and I dialogued with several of them for quite a while.”
Herzog said that in the election, she defeated an old line of power in Loxahatchee Groves that has maintained control in the past. “The old guard, as they are called,” she said.
However, she was happy to have had a clean campaign. At the start, she told DeMarois that she intended to run a clean campaign and hoped that he would, too. “I didn’t send out anything derogatory, and I don’t think he did,” she said.
Herzog had a meeting scheduled with Town Manager Jamie Titcomb on Thursday to go over pre-installation requirements, including the Sunshine Law and other topics new council members must be familiar with.
“We’ll keep our five-foot distance,” she said, referring to COVID-19 coronavirus advisories. “We did a Facetime talk today.”
Council service is not new to Herzog, but it has been more than a decade since her last stint on the board. Her presence on the council will mean a slight change in the balance of power, although three sitting members — Mayor Robert Shorr and councilwomen Laura Danowski and Lisa El-Ramey — who were elected simultaneously last year, seem to speak for the council on most matters.
“There is some sympathy in the topics and where the topics will be voted on, and I think there is an allegiance of some sort,” Herzog said.
She would like the council to address some topics she feels have been discussed but never acted on; or voted on but never executed.
“I’d like to find out from Jamie what are some of the things that were voted on in the past and are still sitting on the shelf waiting to be processed,” Herzog said. “Some of the things required money and some just required action. Some of the stuff, like the Okeechobee Blvd. crosswalk, I know it’s supposed to happen soon. I’d like to see these overlays [for Okeechobee Blvd.] get moved as quick as possible. I think that has been dragging on. I’ve heard of that for years now and no action has been taken. We’ve got to do something to protect ourselves.”
Herzog said she was initially concerned what impact the absentee, provisional ballots and early voting would have in a town where a few votes could make a big difference, but her margin of victory was large enough that it was not significant.
“The lead was long enough that it really wasn’t going to have an impact,” she said. “I am just looking forward to working with Jamie because he’s a dynamic manager, and I know his heart is in doing what is needed and best for Loxahatchee Groves, and that is what’s most important to me.”
Herzog noted that said she knew Titcomb from when he was executive director of the Palm Beach County League of Cities and she was a councilwoman sitting on the first council when the town incorporated.
“He encouraged me to be on the league of cities board for small towns, and I enjoyed serving on that,” she said.
Herzog was also part of the town’s incorporation committee, where Titcomb was helpful in maneuvering through the complicated process in Tallahassee for the town to incorporate.