Friday, September 7, 2018

The Municipal Elections in the City of Lake Worth next year.

And should the City of Lake Worth eliminate
run-off elections by referendum?

Do you know what a “shill” is? Find out what a ‘shill’ is later in this blog post. And about the shill shuffle too.

This is very important. On March 12th, 2019, will be the municipal elections here in the City. The ‘dragging of feet’ is still going on in District 4 to put up a challenger to run against Commissioner Herman C. Robinson:

“We’ve launched our campaign Facebook page 
for my re-election campaign. The election
is March 12, 2019.”

Commissioner Robinson remains unopposed and will be re-elected following the end of the Qualifying Period on December 11th. The race in District 2 drew a challenger over 2 months ago.

In District 2 Commissioner Omari Hardy has a challenger who stepped up last June: that would be Kathy Turk. And make no mistake. Turk is no shill. She is a serious challenger for the seat in District 2 and that race is shaping up to be a very good one. However, in District 4, Commissioner Robinson could draw a challenger, maybe one who will pop up late in the Qualifying Period like what happened to Mayor Pam Triolo last year. Enter Drew Martin and the rest is history, as they say.

So in Districts 2 and 4 will anyone else jump in? Be the shill. It’s happened many times before in this City.

So to the question: Should the City of Lake Worth have a referendum on eliminating run-off elections?

Such a referendum was tried once before but failed. Try once again? Continue reading to find out why the time may be right for another ballot question to foil the ‘shills’. Think about that as we’re heading into another Election Season next year. Yes, municipal elections have a tendency to start early in this City, well before the Qualifying Period which begins on November 27th at noon.

More about hazards and pitfalls of the run-off election: The case of Mr. Jorge Goyanes (see below).

The idea of not having run-off elections still get’s floated around from time to time. The winner on Election Day would be the highest vote-getter instead of having to reach that magic number of “50% + 1”. In a four-person race it’s almost guaranteed to force a run-off and two more weeks of door-knockers, yard signs, and mailers.

Let’s consider what will happens if there should be three or more candidates on the ballot next year in one or both races in Districts 2 and 4. And what if one or more of those candidates is a shill? A ‘shill’, also called other things that can’t be mentioned on this blog, is someone who qualifies to get on the ballot but has no intention of winning — but just to get a certain percentage of the vote — whatever that number is deemed necessary to stop someone else from getting “50% + 1”. Why? To force a run-off election two weeks after Election Day.

Usually for example, in a three-person race, the shill jumps in last. Sometimes within minutes of the end of the Qualifying Period in December. But then there’s the “shill shuffle” when the shill qualifies first and then the real candidate qualifies later on. Then everyone has to figure it out: “Who is the shill?” Cathy Turk in the District 2 race is not a shill. But what about the next one to jump in? Are they a serious candidate or not?

Let’s take the case of what happened to
Mr. Jorge Goyanes in March 2006.

A political mailer.

Click on image to enlarge:

In 2006 Goyanes would most likely have won the District 2 seat but then something happened along the way to monkeywrench his plans.

Goyanes had three challengers in the General Election held on March 14th, 2006:

In a four-person race it’s very difficult to reach that magic number: 50%  +  1.

Then two weeks later, on March 28th, 2006,
the run-off election was held:

Ergo: The hazards and pitfalls of a run-off election.*

The point is this: Going forward in the 2018–2019 Election Season pay very close attention to who enters the races in Districts 2 and 4. Are they “in it to win it” or just to stop someone else from getting “50% + 1”?

Now more more about “What is a shill?”

In some cities and towns in Palm Beach County, to win an election outright you only need to get the majority of the vote to win. So if five or six people are running for a seat on a commission or council the winner would only need 30–40% to win, or maybe even less.

However, in most cities in PBC the winner needs 50% of the vote +1 which would then trigger an automatic recount (the winner needs a margin over ½ of 1% to avoid a recount). That’s where the shill comes in.

[FYI: In the recent August 28th Primary there was an automatic recount in the three-person race for mayor in Boca Raton. Scott Singer won the mayoral seat. For more about this and about newspaper political endorsements in The Palm Beach Post too click on this link.]

The shill may be in the race to help someone get 50% + 1 or, in other cases, the shill’s job is to damage another candidate and force a run-off election between the two top vote-getters that would be held two weeks after the general election. If the candidate being targeted is politically damaged enough two weeks may not be enough time to recover and beat the second-place finisher.

Now it gets more complicated: What if people think there is a shill in the race but instead all of the candidates are truly in it to win it? And now, the most complicated possibility of all that any serious candidate needs to plan for: the dangers and pitfalls of a runoff election!

*The drama that is District 2: Cara Jennings in 2005–2006 claimed not to be an Anarchist and continued to deny it running for re-election in 2008, an election she won. In 2010 Jennings passed the baton to Chris McVoy, PhD, who was elected and finally booted off the Commission in 2017.
     In 2016 Jennings reflected on her two terms on the Lake Worth City Commission and acknowledged her support for Anarchy.
     Had we known this in 2006. . .