Democrats Blair Ciklin, Deandre Poole win Port of Palm Beach commissioner races
Two Democrats, including a longtime incumbent, won close contests Tuesday for seats on the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commissioners.
In Group 4, Blair Ciklin received 76,036 votes or 50.8%, to 73,592 votes for his Republican opponent Doreen Benson.
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Ciklin, 73, the board’s chairman, is a financial advisor and first vice president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in West Palm Beach and has been a port commissioner since 1977. He received $73,350 in campaign contributions and spent $28,851.
Ciklin said a low Democratic turnout narrowed his race.
“I’m surprised how weak the turnout was on the Democratic side.”
When his next term expires, Ciklin will have been a port commissioner for half a century. “There’s no way I think I’ll be running again,” he said.
Benson, 66, ran a low-key campaign, and declined to be interviewed by The Palm Beach Post for a preview story of the election. She received only two campaign contributions — $4,250 from the Republican Party of Palm Beach and $100 from a contractor.
Benson has worked as a broker at Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers in New York City and in marketing at The Xerox Corp., according to her campaign website.
Group 5: Deandre Poole edges Roderick Clarke
In Group 5, Democrat Deandre Poole was victorious with 75,523 votes – 50.6% -- to 73,361 votes for Republican Roderick Oliver Clarke.
A senior instructor in communication studies in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University, Poole, 41, had previously run unsuccessfully for supervisor of elections in 2020 and West Palm Beach City Commission in 2021.
Poole raised $36,100 from construction, engineering and agricultural interests, and individuals that include retired county commissioners Jess Santamaria, Addie Greene and Priscilla Taylor, retired Port Commissioner Peyton McArthur and former Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. He spent $27,433.
This was Clarke’s second unsuccessful attempt to be elected to the Port Commission, having lost another race in 2020. He also ran in vain for West Palm Beach City Commission last year.
Clarke, 49, is a manager at a Walmart store and a pastor. He received $29,300 in campaign donations and spent $3,500.
Port commissioners oversee a special taxing district that produces $17.5 million annually in state and local tax revenue. The 165-acre port in Riviera Beach and its tenants employ more than 3,500 people. The five commissioners meet monthly and are paid salaries of $12,500.
Port commission Group 2 seat is open
The Port Commission will soon be adding another new face in addition to Poole. Commissioners are accepting applications for the Group 2 seat that was held by Katherine Waldron. The deadline to apply is Nov. 16. Her successor will be appointed by the other commissioners to complete her term that ends in January 2025.
The port and its tenants employ more than 3,500 people. It has not levied any taxes on Palm Beach County residents since fiscal year 1974-1975.
Commissioners are elected to four-year terms and meet monthly.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Election results: Blair Ciklin, Deandre Poole win Port of Palm Beach