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After a power shift on council, what's next in Riviera Beach?

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 04:10:40-04

It was a blowout election in the race for the council seat for Riviera Beach District 4 on Tuesday with the 10-year incumbent Dawn Pardo garnering just over 21 percent of the vote. Political newcomer Julia Botel won decisively.

RELATED: More Riviera Beach coverage | Election results

“Tonight, people have spoken,” Botel said Tuesday. “People have spoken for change.”

Voter turnout was up in Riviera Beach. 

“We’re not very happy with the current leadership and we think that Riviera Beach deserves a change,” Riviera Beach resident Paola Correia said.

Pardo had voted to fire Riviera Beach City Manager Jonathan Evans on Sept. 20. The controversial move triggered a recall effort by a citizen’s group, hoping to throw the three city council members who voted to fire Evans out of office. 

Tuesday’s race wasn’t even close. Botel won with 79 percent of the vote and Pardo did not even get over a thousand votes. To put the stunning loss into perspective, compared to all two-candidate races, Pardo was the second biggest loser in the county. 

It was a sign that voters did not forget her decision to fire Evans. 

“I certainly believe that had a lot to do with it,” chairwoman KaShamba Miller-Anderson said. 

Miller-Anderson, who has been an outspoken supporter of Evans, won re-election easily over Keith Golden. 

With Pardo’s loss, the power on council will shift. 

No longer will council members Terence Davis, Lynne Hubbard, and Pardo form a majority voting block. 

They had voted to fire Evans “for cause,” but without explanation. Then they voted to change the record, saying they voted Evans “without cause.”

That trio also joined together to hire James Poag as city manager without an interview or background check. That decision blew up one day later when Contact 5 discovered Poag was once arrested for domestic battery and had been fired from a similar position in Wellington. 

Poag withdrew from the position, citing WPTV’s reporting. 

Pardo, however, stood by her decision during a council meeting Oct. 24.

“There are some people in this room who have been convicted of, or accused of things much more, well much worse than what this gentleman was arrested for,” Pardo said on Oct. 24.

People in the audience were booing and Miller-Anderson was interrupting Pardo, but Pardo continued.  “No, I’m sorry ma’am, if you want to discuss it, it’s going to be discussed,” Pardo said. “It’s all or nothing.”

Botel will be sworn in at the next city council meeting on March 21.

As for Hubbard and Davis, they’re facing re-election next year. Meanwhile, the recall effort to get them out of office before then is still underway.