Delray Beach voters elect pair of newcomers as commissioners

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:40 PM EDT
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Delray Beach will be getting two newcomers to City Hall.

Voters chose Angela Burns and Rob Long to become their newest city commissioners in Tuesday's municipal election.

Long’s win came at the expense of current Commissioner Juli Casale, who herself ousted incumbent Bill Bathurst in 2020.

A former member of the city's Planning and Zoning Board, Long often favored development projects that Casale opposed.

Burns edged former Commissioner Angie Gray to fill the seat being vacated by Shirley Johnson, who could not seek reelection because of term limits.

Casale often sided with Mayor Shelly Petrolia on voting matters and has opposed massive growth within the "Village by the Sea."

Long and his supporters have criticized Casale for voting to terminate the city’s lease with the board that operated Old School Square. The controversial decision was met with plenty of public outcry from residents.

Casale has painted Long as being in bed with developers, voting for projects on the Planning and Zoning Board despite having business ties to some, as an ethics complaint alleged.

"I am disappointed," Casale told WPTV in a statement. "There was great confusion with the vote by mail. This resulted in remarkably low turnout."

Meanwhile, Burns and Gray sparred in a series of campaign mailers.

Gray's campaign chided Burns for co-owning a failed business that received a $66,000 city grant and was later evicted. Burns berated Gray's one-time suggestion that the city should get its own cryptocurrency.

Voters also overwhelmingly favored a pair of bond referendums totaling $120 million. Residents will pay for the bonds over 30 years through their property taxes.

Taxpayers will front a $100 million bond "to finance the renovation and equipping the police headquarters and fire stations."

WFLX spoke with Delray Beach Police Chief Russ Mager earlier in the day about the need for a new building. He said there are officers “working out of closets” in the current building on Atlantic Avenue.

"Over the years, the department has grown," he said. "The city has grown. The building is antiquated, although functional."

Mager said he believes most of the money – about $80 million – would go toward the construction of a new headquarters for the Delray Beach Police Department.

"That's essentially what we're looking at with today's cost figures," Mager said.

Taxpayers will also spend another $20 million to fund improvements to Catherine Strong Park, Robert P. Miller Park and other city parks, although it wasn't specified how much money will be earmarked for each.

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