Republicans flip two county commission seats: Mayor Weinroth out in big upset to newcomer Woodward

Two Democrats, including an incumbent, were defeated in two of three Palm Beach County Commission races despite raising and spending far more money than their opponents.

“Money didn’t matter,” said veteran Port Commissioner Blair Ciklin, speaking about low Democratic turnout throughout the county Tuesday. Ciklin won his unexpectedly close port commission race.

In a huge upset, County Mayor Robert Weinroth lost to newcomer Marci Woodward in his bid Tuesday to be re-elected to the county commission in District 4, which extends from Boca Raton through suburban Boynton Beach and east to the barrier island near Lantana. Woodward received 48,889 votes — 52% — to 45,212 votes for Weinroth.

Marci Woodward
Marci Woodward

Like other Republicans seeking seats on the county commission, Woodward was heavily outraised and outspent. Weinroth raised more than eight times as much money as his opponent — $416,971 to Woodward’s $48,727. He spent $289,052 to $33,654 by Woodward, also more than eight times as much.

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Weinroth advertised heavily on television stations in West Palm Beach. Contributors who gave $1,000 include Ranger Construction, U.S. Sugar Corp., the Government Law Group, Phoenix Equipment, South Gardens Citrus Holding, the Compson Group, Colony Reserve @ Lake Worth LLC and land planner Ken Tuma.

Woodward, a homemaker who helps run her husband’s industrial coating business, received an $11,000 contribution from the county’s Republican Party.

She said on her website that county policies enacted during the COVID shutdown prompted her to challenge Weinroth.

She told The Palm Beach Post in an interview that she opposed the $200 million affordable housing bond issue. She also complained about aggressive enforcement of the county’s zoning code by code enforcement.

Weinroth, 70, also lives in Boca Raton. He supported the bond issue, noting that even with the thousands of new housing units constructed over the last decade, the supply of affordable workforce housing is about 100,000 units short of demand.

County Commission District 6: Rep. Sara Baxter defeats Michelle McGovern

In the District 6 contest, Democrat Michelle Oyola McGovern lost to Republican Sara Baxter, who got 40,763 votes to 36,445 for McGovern — or a 5.6 % difference.

Neither McGovern, 46, of Wellington, nor Baxter had ever sought elected office.

McGovern raised $447,898; Baxter, $119,338. McGovern spent $341,763 to Baxter’s $109,849. Baxter, though, was the most well financed of the three Republicans seeking a seat on the county commission. A real estate agent, she contributed $20,000 to her campaign on Aug. 15. She also received an $11,000 contribution from the Republican Party of Palm Beach County.

McGovern defeated State Rep. Matt Willhite in the Democratic primary. Most of her campaign war chest was spent during that election. Baxter ran unopposed in the GOP primary.

McGovern’s political action committee received a $10,000 contribution last month from a builder seeking to develop a parcel adjacent to Valencia Shores on Lyons Road in an unincorporated area of the county. Valencia Shores strongly opposes the development.

County Commission District 2: Incumbent Gregg Weiss wins

In District 2, incumbent Democrat Gregg Weiss bucked the trend and handily defeated Republican challenger Jeffrey Skene. Weiss is the current vice mayor. It was Skene’s first attempt at elected office.

Weiss received 36,363 votes to 28,510 for Skene, a 12.1% margin of victory.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss asks questions during the COVID-19 update to the commission in West Palm Beach Tuesday, July 28, 2020. [LANNIS WATERS/]
Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss asks questions during the COVID-19 update to the commission in West Palm Beach Tuesday, July 28, 2020. [LANNIS WATERS/]

Weiss raised $249,237 and Skene $13,695. Nearly half of Skene’s campaign funds, $6,500, came from the county GOP organization.

Meanwhile, in September and October, Weiss’s $1,000 contributors included Clifford Hertz, an attorney; JMorton Planning and Landscape; Ken Tuma, a landscape architect; Lynx At Lake Worth; Government Law Group; U.S. Sugar Corp.; Southern Gardens Citrus Holding; South Central Florida Express, Geoffrey Sluggett, a government-relations consultant' and Red Barn Feed and Supply.

Weiss spent $173,675 on his campaign compared to $12,840 by Skene on his.

During Weiss’ interview before the Post editorial board, he was asked if he wanted to respond to something that Skene had said during the campaign. “I’m not sure I have heard my opponent say anything. If you have heard something, let me know.”

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Mike Diamond contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Election results: Palm Beach County Commission Districts 2, 4 and 6