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Michelle Oyola McGovern claims victory in Democratic primary for Palm Beach County Commission

District 6 winner will face Republican to become newest county commissioner
Michelle Oyola McGovern after winning Democratic primary for Palm Beach County Commission District 6, Aug. 23, 2022
Posted at 10:02 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 23:48:19-04

WELLINGTON, Fla. — Democrats in Palm Beach County have elected a nominee whom they hope will become their newest commissioner.

Michelle Oyola McGovern was the apparent winner of a three-way race for District 6, covering a large portion of western Palm Beach County.

The seat is currently held by Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who cannot run again because of term limits.

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McGovern was one of two other Democratic candidates vying for the seat, but she had the backing of McKinlay to help propel her to the victory.

"It feels pretty incredible," McGovern told WPTV after proclaiming victory.

Once a top aide to former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., McGovern was joined by McKinlay, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and other supporters at a Wellington restaurant where she held her election watch party.

Michelle Oyola McGovern thanks supporters while Melissa McKinlay looks on, Aug. 23, 2022
Michelle Oyola McGovern thanks supporters while outgoing Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay looks on during the Democratic nominee's victory speech, Aug. 23, 2022, in Wellington, Fla.

McGovern said she plans to continue working on issues pertaining to housing and affordability if she wins in November. She also hopes to offer a unique perspective as a Latina.

"District 6 is one of the most diverse districts in the county and, you know, Hispanics are the fast-growing demographic in Palm Beach County and my family's from Puerto Rico and I'm really proud to represent and looking forward to being that voice on the county Commission," McGovern said.

Matt Willhite, who has served in the Florida House since 2016, was a distant second Tuesday night in unofficial results provided by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, trailing by almost 4,000 votes with nearly all precincts reporting.

Sara Baxter, a former middle school science teacher, was unopposed in the Republican primary and will face McGovern in the November general election.

Sylvia Sharps, who also ran for Palm Beach County Commission in 2018 but lost in the Democratic primary, had fewer than 2,000 votes.