Five Candidates Seeking Wellington Council Seat 4

Wellington voters will head to the polls Tuesday, March 19 to choose from among five candidates running for Seat 4 on the Wellington Village Council.

Seat 4 is being vacated by Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone. Candidates Shelly Lariz Albright, Maria Antuña, Carol Coleman, Karen Morris-Clarke and Michael Partow have filed to replace him in the seat.

The election will be held on the same day as Florida’s presidential preference primary. If no candidate gets more than 35 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff on Tuesday, April 2.

Also on the March 19 ballot will be four candidates seeking Seat 1 (Bob Margolis, Marcella Montesinos, Amanda Silvestri and John “Jay” Carl Webber), as well as a mayoral race between Napoleone and Bart Novack.


Shelly Albright believes that her wide and varied service in the community makes her the best choice for the council.

“I think it is really important to know that I have been heavily involved in this community for more than 20 years at the ground level,” Albright said. “Being active with the Community Services Department, when there is a need, I’m the one they call. When the PBSO needs someone, I’m the one they call, because I know the people to get things done.”

Albright works as director of children and youth ministries at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church.

“Working in this community at the church has given me the opportunity to meet so many families and people and be able to do outreach in ways that I think are impactful,” she said.

Aside from her work, Albright served as vice chair of Wellington’s Education Committee for eight years, was chair of Wellington Interfaith for many years, sat on Palm Beach County’s Commission on the Status of Women and on the board of the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club. She was also president of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches and was involved in several PTOs and PTAs while her four adult sons were growing up.

‘I chose to run for the council so that I can continue to serve, but at a higher level,” said Albright, who ran unsuccessfully for a state house seat last year. “We have lots of people who still need things, from our seniors to our homeowners to our children in the schools.”

Her top campaign issues are dealing with traffic, protecting the environment and protecting the equestrian lifestyle.

“I already have resources and knowledge in place, and I have done hard work over the past 20 years to help the people,” Albright said. “We need someone who will listen and be the voice of the people.”

She considers raising her family and supporting nonprofits as her top accomplishments.

“Aside from being a mother, I’m incredibly proud of the fundraising I’ve done for nonprofits over the years,” Albright said. “I’m especially proud of the impact I’ve been able to make on improving the lives of families in Wellington.”

Her top priorities are to support Wellington’s A-rated schools, keep the Keely Spinelli school grants, make sure seniors are getting their needs met, and protecting the equestrian preserve and environmentally sensitive lands.

“I’d like for Wellington to keep this hometown feel we have without becoming stagnant,” Albright said. “I want families to be able to live and work in our hometown, like I do.”

She believes that Wellington needs to be proactive when it comes to dealing with growth and traffic issues.

“We need to work and support regional transposition initiatives to relieve traffic and continue to support the efforts of the PBSO at the local schools, which has helped a lot,” Albright said.

She sees pros and cons regarding Wellington’s annexation on the north side of Southern Blvd.

“I support the idea of going to the vote, so the people can choose,” Albright said. “We would have some sort of say over what will happen there. The residents there seem to really want it, but it is something for them to decide.”

She is supportive of the work being done by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

“I think they are doing a wonderful job keeping us safe and helping out with issues as they arise,” Albright said. “I think very highly of all the officers that I have met.”

While she does not support the recent vote by council members to remove land from the Equestrian Preserve Area to support the Wellington Lifestyle Partners project, she does not support the proposed recall vote.

“The vote has gone through, and now we need to make sure that WLP follows through on all of the requirements that were put in place,” Albright said. “I would take a hard line on that.”

On the council, Albright hopes to be a voice for the residents.

“I’m most proud of being part of a community that cares about one another and who are so fully invested in making Wellington a great hometown,” she said.


Maria Antuña moved to Wellington in 1978. After living in South Shore, she moved to her current home in Paddock Park 37 years ago. “I was a banker for 45 years,” she said. “I have always been a leader in every job I had.”

Her current position is as CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County, where she is “an advocate for economic impact for our community.”

“I chose to run for the council because I felt that now was the time that I could use my experience of leadership and my finance background,” Antuña said. “It is time that we look toward the future, and with my experience, I felt that I could be the candidate to move Wellington forward toward the future.”

Antuña said she is the best person to serve on the council because of her strong leadership skills, banking experience and expertise in budgeting and finance.

“As the CEO of the chamber, I have been a job creator and a business creator, and I have created economic impact,” she said. “I am also involved with education. The chamber has always been involved with moving our children forward, providing scholarships and giving them opportunities for their future.”

She is proud of her work growing the chamber to 538 members, as well as “creating an amazing life with my husband of 48 years, establishing a solid foundation of family values.” Together, they raised two sons.

Protecting the equestrian community and fighting overdevelopment are her top priorities.

“My commitment to the equestrian community goes beyond admiration. It is a promise to preserve this integral part of our town’s heritage and ensure that the equestrian lifestyle continues to be part of our identity and brand for years to come,” Antuña said.

She also opposes overdevelopment, which she said creates overcrowding and traffic. She would prioritize public safety by supporting first responders and “champion world-class education for our children.”

“My vision for the future is to continue to preserve what Wellington is today,” Antuña said. “We must continue creating opportunities for small businesses to move into Wellington, continue to ensure that our schools maintain A ratings and continue to protect our preserve areas.”

Antuña said that the village should respond to growth by listening to the residents of Wellington. “The residents of Wellington are the Village of Wellington, and they should be heard,” she said.

On the issue of traffic, Antuña said the village should work with county and state agencies. “We must work closely with these entities so that we can come to the table with solutions in helping relieve traffic,” she said.

She is very supportive of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

“I believe that they do a very good job,” Antuña said. “They have done a good job at being involved in the community and being part of the community.”

Antuña does not support Wellington’s annexation on the north side of Southern Blvd.

“I am currently not in favor of the annexation because the residents have voiced that the [Wellington Lifestyle Partners] project was rushed for a decision, and I don’t want to see that happen again,” she said. “With the impact it would bring to Wellington, we need to look at the annexation on a slower pace to ensure that the outcome is one for the good of the residents of Wellington.”

While she does not support the recall effort against council members who voted for the WLP project, she does support their right to express themselves and offer their opinions.

“I am most proud of what the village has done in keeping Wellington a great place to live, great schools and creating and providing resources to have the equestrian community and the polo community here, allowing us to be equestrian capital of the world,” Antuña said.


Carol Coleman believes that her varied experience makes her the best choice for a seat on the Wellington Village Council.

“I am an equestrian, and I moved to the village because of the equestrian nature and lifestyle,” she said. “I am a 28-year resident of the village. Married for 45 years with two grown children and six grandchildren.”

Coleman, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2010, is a past member of the village’s Equestrian Preserve Committee, and a past member and chair of the Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board. She has also served on the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and is a past president and current member of the Wellington Garden Club, as well as past district director for the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.

While her training is as a speech pathologist, audiologist and learning disabilities expert, she has also owned several businesses, such as a ballroom dance shoe company, and her current business, which manufactures the studs that go into horseshoes.

“We have never had an equestrian on the council, and the economy of the Village of Wellington is based in the equestrians being here,” said Coleman, who also sits on the board of two equestrian-related nonprofits, the Kevin Babington Foundation and the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, and has 40 years of experience as a judge with the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the Canadian Equestrian Federation. “Because of my background with the village on the committees I have served on, and the fact that I am an equestrian, makes me an ideal candidate for the position.”

Coleman’s top priorities are the economy, taxes and safety, as well as “fairness and transparency for the people who sit on the council.”

“My vision is that we have smart development and, in particular, affordable housing for people who work in the village but cannot afford to live here,” she said.

Growth and traffic will always be issues in Wellington, but they must be properly managed, she said.

“We have to understand that there will always be growth, and we have to monitor the growth so that it does not affect the lifestyle of the village that we all love,” Coleman said. “I do feel that we have to make adjustments at the major intersections, in particular Pierson Road and South Shore Blvd. I think we need additional traffic lights and signage throughout the village. I also think we need additional street lighting in the equestrian areas because many of those roads are very dark.”

She also thinks that Wellington needs to do a better job with the striping of lines on roadways, which Coleman said are hard to see.

Coleman supports Wellington’s proposed annexation on the north side of Southern Blvd. but does worry about potential safety issues it might cause.

She wants to make sure that Wellington keeps up with growth when it comes to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

“I think they do a wonderful job,” Coleman said. “But I do worry that if we have more growth, we will be putting undue stress on them if we do not have more officers. They do a marvelous job for the village, and I think they are well respected by the people.”

Coleman opposed the Wellington Lifestyle Partners equestrian development plan and supported the recall effort that grew out of it. “I think they certainly tried to accomplish something and make people aware,” Coleman said of the recall organizers.

Regarding the WPL plans, she said, “I am fraught with the problems that have occurred with the people involved in the project. I question whether the developers will complete what they have promised.”

Nevertheless, she hopes for an amicable solution to the entire situation.

“I am most proud of the equestrian community having come together to voice their opinions about the projects in front of us,” Coleman said. “I hope that we can come to some amicable resolution that will satisfy all of the equestrians and still maintain the lifestyle that we are accustomed to and the reason that many of us moved to Wellington.”


Karen Morris-Clarke said that her 24 years raising a family in Wellington makes her a strong candidate to serve on the Wellington Village Council.

“From nurturing my family of five children, to building my businesses, Wellington isn’t just where I live; it’s where my heart resides,” she said. “It has been fulfilling to volunteer in my community.”

This volunteer work has included youth football, managing parent traffic at Binks Forest Elementary School, serving meals at food pantries and working with local nonprofit organizations.

“In addition to my volunteer work, I’ve garnered extensive experience in the real estate and travel industries,” Morris-Clarke said. “In real estate, I’ve held positions ranging from property management to sales, allowing me to understand the intricacies of housing and development in our community. My tenure in the travel sector has involved roles in working with large groups, customer service and management, fostering a deep appreciation for hospitality and tourism, both locally and internationally.”

This background, she said, “underscores my ability to navigate complex systems and negotiate effectively, skills that are essential in advocating for our community’s interests.”

It has also taught her the value of hard work and dedication, which she now intends to put to work for the residents of Wellington.

“My deep-rooted connection to this community has afforded me intimate knowledge of our collective struggles and triumphs,” Morris-Clarke said. “With a wealth of experience, unwavering dedication, and a genuine passion for the well-being of our village, I believe I can contribute positively to shaping our future.”

One of her top goals is to make Wellington’s streets safer for everyone.

“My candidacy is driven by a personal tragedy — the loss of our 25-year-old son in a road accident, minutes from home,” she said. “This heartbreaking experience has significantly influenced my dedication to prioritize road safety.”

Morris-Clarke, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2022, stressed that she has no ties to special interests or self-serving agendas and will “bring a unique perspective to the table.”

Her top priorities are growing the economy, protecting neighborhoods, road safety and infrastructure improvements, preserving the village and community involvement.

“I envision a future where Wellington’s growth is embraced and balanced with the preservation of Wellington’s distinct identity,” she said.

Morris-Clarke said that Wellington needs thoughtful planning and community involvement when dealing with growth.

“Striking a balance between growth and the village’s unique character is crucial, and understanding the concerns and preferences of residents and businesses is essential,” she said.

Addressing traffic concerns is a key priority.

“To alleviate congestion, we must pursue a multifaceted approach,” Morris-Clarke said. “Firstly, investing in road infrastructure expansion and enhancement is imperative to accommodate the burgeoning traffic volume and alleviate congestion at critical junctions. Additionally, leveraging cutting-edge traffic management technologies, such as intelligent traffic signal systems, can optimize traffic flow and mitigate gridlock.”

She also supports more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly infrastructure and proactive education campaigns aimed at promoting responsible driving behavior. She is also concerned about traffic around schools. “One potential strategy involves revising school boundaries in neighboring areas to alleviate congestion and ensure equitable access to educational resources,” Morris-Clarke said.

She supports Wellington’s proposed annexation on the north side of Southern Blvd., as long as it is done thoughtfully and responsibly.

“It has the potential to benefit Wellington by stimulating economic development, improving services, attracting new businesses and investments,” Morris-Clarke said. “This could create job opportunities and bolster our local economies. Additionally, this annexation can broaden our tax base, offering additional revenue to enhance public services and infrastructure for both our residents and the annexed area.”

She gives high marks to the work of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

“I acknowledge the work they do to maintain a secure environment for all residents,” Morris-Clarke said. “Regularly monitoring how well they’re doing is important to keep Wellington residents safe.”

She is proud of Wellington’s distinct character.

“I’m proud of our lively community spirit and the peaceful coexistence among our residents,” Morris-Clarke said. “Small businesses are able to flourish, and residents of all ages actively engage, making Wellington a warm and welcoming hometown for all. Additionally, our great equestrian feature adds a unique charm to the community, enhancing the overall character of Wellington.”


An engineer, Michael Partow believes that his background makes him the best choice for the council.

“Because of where we are today, at the intersection of some really dramatic changes, I think my background is uniquely interesting,” he said. “I’m an engineer. I have worked as an engineer in many industries and at multi-national companies.”

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA. Before retiring, he was the vice president of global engineering at Pfizer.

“In terms of looking at development, I have been doing this all my life — what makes a successful project and how to present it to the public,” Partow said. “You have to bring the public into the discussion.”

On several current projects, he feels that Wellington is rushing into them without enough forethought.

“The amount of impact that these projects will have on our town over the next four to five years will be dramatic,” Partow said. “It will impact everything from our traffic to our schools to our first responders.”

He feels that the council is disconnected from what residents want on these issues, and others.

“I would like to do better with our schools, parks and cost of living in Wellington, which is outrageous,” Partow said. “Our service providers can’t afford to live here.”

Partow and his family own two horse farms, one in Virginia and one in Wellington, known as Caspian Farm North and South, where his daughter, Ashley Partow, works as a trainer.

“I see myself beyond the qualifications,” he said. “It suits this particular phase in time. Things were calm a few years ago. What we have in front of us now is colossal.”

As his top personal accomplishment, Partow points to his volunteer work with the Shriners, which included driving children to medical appointments at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia. Professionally, he is proud of his work building medical research facilities around the world.

His top priority will be to safeguard the Equestrian Preserve Area.

“What happened just recently can’t happen again,” Partow said. “I would like to have a set-aside legal budget, not to be touched for anything else, except to go after in court, if it needs to be, that our preserve is not touched. We need to change the way we do business, and it starts with the council.”

As an equestrian, Partow began coming to Wellington in the late 1980s. “It is a dream area of horses, and this town cannot forget its origins,” he said. “I am working to have responsible development, not just more concrete.”

He remains furious about the Wellington Lifestyle Partners project, and he supported the recall effort that sprang out of it.

“It breaks my heart what is being proposed at South Shore and Pierson,” Partow said. “That 9,000-acre preserve cannot just be given away for development. We are naive if we think others won’t challenge us on this. My vision is safeguard that. What was the rush? Why did it have to be six weeks before the election?”

He believes that the village needs an independent traffic consultant to challenge the studies being put forward by developers.

“I have worked with municipalities on traffic issues. Developers come in with traffic people, but they are good at looking at it one way,” Partow said.

Partow needs more information before supporting Wellington’s annexation on the north side of Southern Blvd.

“What are the negative and positive impacts on residents?” he asked. “Will the cost that goes into it be more than the tax contribution over time? I have doubts.”

He also needs more information before rating the job being done by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. “I would like to find out how many open positions there are among our firefighters, police and paramedics,” Partow said. “I want to know how much overtime they have. I want to know if the salaries we pay to these folks is competitive. Are we getting the best people?”

He wants to make sure Wellington’s equestrian industry is protected.

“I am proud of the way, up to now, the village has treated the horse industry and held the 9,000 acres as sacrosanct, but all of that has changed,” Partow said. “I am proud of how people came together to fight it.”