Julius Whigham II | Palm Beach Post
TEQUESTA — Two candidates seeking political office for the first time will face each other in the race to fill the Tequesta village council seat being vacated by retiring Mayor Abby Brennan.
Harrison Vaughn, a risk management consultant, will face Molly Young, an owner representative for private clients in the commercial real estate development and construction industry, for Tequesta Council Seat 2 in the March 9 municipal election.
The seat currently is held by Brennan, who announced that she will retire at the end of her term in April.
It is the only race on the ballot for Tequesta as Vice Mayor Kyle Stone secured another term in Council Seat 4 when no candidates filed to run against him. The new council will select Brennan’s replacement as mayor.
Vaughn and Young each have longtime ties to northern Palm Beach County. Both are Jupiter High School graduates.
Vaughn, 34, said conversations with residents, business owners and current council members about the direction of the village convinced him to seek the seat. His key campaign issues include rebuilding the village’s reserve accounts and addressing safety issues such as speeding within the village.
He said he also wants to focus on planning for capital improvements and infrastructure projects such as water sewer, sidewalk and road maintenance.
“These are all projects that have been deferred and delayed,” he said. “I think that, as time goes on, addressing them will get more expensive. It’s important to put a plan together to spell out when and how these things will be addressed.”
Young, 38, has served for the past year as an alternate member of Tequesta’s planning and zoning board. She said that experience has helped her identify issues that need to be addressed.
“I started to realize what in my opinion were deficiencies and feel strongly that I can help improve them to make sure Tequesta is going in the right direction,” she said.
Her key campaign issues include ensuring financial accountability, improving communication platforms between the village, addressing pedestrian and roadway safety issues, protecting the village’s natural resources and supporting local businesses.
“We have a really good, strong local business environment here,” Young said. “The residents really love that, so I really want to attract new local small businesses and make Tequesta a little hub, a place you don’t have to leave to get anything. Everything that we want is here.”
Both candidates stressed maintaining safety by providing the village’s police and other first responders with needed resources.
“I’ve heard concerns from residents that the Tequesta Fire Department compensation is near the bottom compared with local municipalities,” Vaughn said. “I think that should be reviewed and considered.”
Said Young: “I know the firefighters, they have some concerns. Their salaries they feel are low. There’s some equipment that is very much outdated, So I definitely want to listen to their needs and come up with a solution in order to help them.”
Tequesta Village Council
Term: Until April 2023
Note: Council members are elected by a plurality. In the event of a tie, a runoff election would be held March 22.
Name: Harrison Vaughn
Education: Florida State University, bachelor’s degree in risk management and insurance
Professional: Risk management consultant
Political: No prior political experience.
Where he stands: His key campaign issues include rebuilding the village’s reserve accounts and addressing safety issues such as speeding on Tequesta roads.
He also wants to focus on planning for capital improvements and infrastructure projects such as water sewer, sidewalk and road maintenance.
Name: Molly Young
Education: Florida State University, bachelor’s degree in economics and environmental studies; completed construction management certificate program at the University of Washington.
Professional: Representative for private clients in commercial real estate development and construction
Political: No prior political experience.
Where she stands: Key campaign issues include addressing shortfalls in the village budget, supporting local businesses and attracting new businesses to Tequesta, and improving roadways and pedestrian safety.
She stressed improved communication between the council and village residents, including being proactive on planning and communications for the Jupiter U.S. 1 Bridge Replacement Project.
Juno Beach Town Council
Term: Until March 2024
Juno Beach, a 2-square-mile seaside community in northern Palm Beach County, has a permanent population of about 3,700 residents. The town is overseen by five council members, who serve three-year terms. Two council seats are up for election this year:
Council Seat 2: Stuart Katz is running against Elaine K. Cotronakis.
Council Seat 4: The candidates are DD Halpern, Diana Davis and Alexander R. Cooke.
About the races: Stuart Katz, the incumbent, is seeking a second term to council Seat 2. He has been an advocate of planning for beach renourishment costs, the preservation of Pelican Lake and mitigating traffic density along Donald Ross Road. His opponent is Elaine K. Cotronakis. Her campaign issues include maintaining proper fiscal management and preserving the beach, Pelican Lake and natural areas.
Three candidates are vying to fill Seat 4, which was vacated in July when council member and former mayor Frank Fahy resigned amid health concerns that preceded his death in August. The remainder of Fahy’s term ends in March and the election is for a full term.
The candidates are DD Halpern, a member of Juno Beach’s planning and zoning board since 2017; Diana Davis, a small business owner practicing elder law, with a focus on real estate planning; and Alexander R. Cooke, a registered investment advisor.
Halpern supports fiscal measures to keep the town debt free, preserving natural areas and environmentally sensitive lands and law-enforcement initiatives to maintain safety. Davis advocates for protecting natural areas, beaches and parks, ensuring that development is appropriate and that government is done in the open. Cooke’s campaign issues include ensuring controlled development and preserving natural spaces; traffic calming and parking planning; and developing a master plan for the town.
Residents will also vote on whether to approve amendments to the town charter for the following :
- The filling of vacancies on the town council.
- The town council’s authority to employ and retain special advisors
- Requiring 24-hour notice for special meetings in the absence of a state of emergency.
- Requiring a unanimous vote by the council to change future land use classification or zoning designation of environmentally sensitive land.
- Requiring the vote of four council members and a referendum vote of the electorate prior to outsourcing management and duties or responsibilities of the police department.
- Requiring the town manager to provide written notice of the appointment of an acting town manager in the event of absence.
- Requiring the town clerk to attest to contracts written by the town manager.