Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On the election today and why our City needs a big voter turnout.

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Imagine this scenario: Omari Hardy gets the most votes by far today, but the incumbent skates sideways and gets re-elected anyhow. Don’t think that can happen? Yes it is possible and you’ll find out how below.

That’s why we need a big voter turnout today (look in the right-hand column for “Numbers tell the story”) and a decisive victory for Omari Hardy

First, there was an error by the editor(s) in the print edition of The Palm Beach Post last Sunday. It was this line in the endorsements for next Tuesday, “Two City Commission races will be [sic] decided Tuesday in Lake Worth in citywide races.”

The line should read, “Two City Commission races may be decided Tuesday. . .”.

Because there are three candidates in the District 2 race and in the District 4 race as well, to win the election a candidate in each race has to win by 50% + 1 vote to avoid a runoff which would be held two weeks later. Last year if you recall, Mayor Pam Triolo had two challengers but easily avoided a runoff, winning her election in a landslide.

This year I’m supporting Omari Hardy in the District 2 race and Herman Robinson in the District 4 race. By far am convinced they are both the best choices this year, and if you’ve been reading this blog, you know the reasons why.

But this blog post is about something else very important to keep in mind: the dangers and pitfalls of a runoff election. If no candidate in a race reaches 50% + 1 vote, a runoff is 2 weeks afterwards and anything can happen. Like what? Let’s say a whole lot of voters don’t turn out again. That happened in 2008, when almost 60% of the voters (4,986 in total) stayed home and didn’t vote in the runoff.

Because of a runoff in 2008, Suzanne Mulvehill got elected and the rest is history. It was because of Mulvehill and her campaign promises, one to break a contract with Greater Bay, that ended up costing the City a $1.6M settlement and started the ball rolling, all those terrible decisions at our Beach, Casino, and of course, the municipal pool. Problems many of which we’re still dealing with today, all these years later.

How did Mulvehill get elected? She only got 36% of the vote and came in 2nd place out of three candidates in the race. But two weeks later Mulvehill got 58% in the runoff and won that election back in 2008 because of a low voter turnout the second time around.

Here is the wording from the City of Lake Worth’s Charter pertaining to elections:

Sec. 4. - General, special and run-off elections.
Whenever a general or a special election is held to fill any elective office in the city, the candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast at such election to fill such office shall be declared to be duly elected; provided that in the event no candidate for a particular elective office shall receive a majority of the votes cast at such election to fill such office, then a run-off election shall be held two (2) weeks after the original election to elect a candidate to fill such office . . .

Here’s what happened and how Mulvehill got elected in 2008:

Note the total number of votes cast: 7,985.

Even though incumbent Commissioner Dave Vespo received more votes than the other two candidates (by nearly 1½ times), he did not win that election by 50% + 1 vote. A run-off was scheduled to be held two weeks later. Here’s what happened then:

Note the number of voters this time, 2 weeks later: 2,999. Hard to believe, isn’t it? 4,986 voters did not vote in the runoff.

It’s important to remember this election was in November during a high-turnout presidential election. In 2013, by referendum, elections in Lake Worth were moved back to March. We’ll know the voter turnout numbers, absentee votes, and the results on Tuesday night. But the thing is this, if a runoff is needed, what if only 40% that vote next Tuesday come out again two weeks later?

Take this scenario: Omari Hardy gets the most votes on Tuesday but doesn’t get 50% +1 vote. He’ll go into a runoff with Comm. McVoy, the incumbent. McVoy rallies his devoted base of 500 or so voters and he could win that District 2 seat again. It could happen.

That’s why if you’re looking to take this City in a new direction, take back that District 2 seat held by Cara Jennings (2006–2010) and then McVoy from 2010 to the present, McVoy needs to be beaten outright on Tuesday. (FYI, some think it’s been the plan all along by the McVoy campaign to be in a runoff, ergo why they’re “slow playing” this time around.)

For some the District 4 race between Herman Robinson and Maryann Polizzi is a “flip of the coin”. I’m supporting Herman Robinson and have so since the beginning of his campaign. He’s the best choice and by far the most qualified and experienced.

I’m supporting Omari Hardy as well and hope that race isn’t a “flip of the coin” for anyone. I think I’ve made the case many times over on this blog why McVoy should not be re-elected. And the editor of The Palm Beach Post did as well:

Vote for Omari Hardy today and finally, “build consensus” in our City, stop the dysfunction and obstruction ever since 2006 in District 2. We need a decisive victory for Omari Hardy. Why? Because strange things can happen in a runoff.