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Riviera Beach residents hopeful new city leadership will bring change

Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 27, 2019

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — It’s a new day in Riviera Beach where three council members and the mayor were voted out in a historic election.

Mary Babham has lived in the city for 25 years. The changing of the guards at city hall matters to her.

“In my heart, I do not have words to express,” Brabham said. “I hope for us to build a better future.”

What sparked the big change was the firing of the former city manager, Jonathan Evans on Sept. 20, 2017.

Three council members voted to fire Evans and the citizens demanded answers, packed council meetings, and signed recall petitions.

Although the election was more than a year after the firing of the city manager, the citizens hadn’t forgotten.

Of the five council members and the mayor from that September night, only one is still on the dais.

“You residents are not responsible for the image of our city,” Brabham said. “Our leaders are responsible.”

The message from the voters was loud and clear.

“People wanted change,” said Mayor-elect Ronnie Felder who defeated Thomas Masters. “And they’re willing to give us a try, which is good. But we want to be looked at, held accountable. I’m looking forward to working with the new council and let get this city moving forward.”

The new council and the mayor have their work cut out for them. Riviera Beach still needs a new city manager and fill eight other department head positions, including police and fire chief.

Many in the city, like Brabham, are now hopeful that this will mark a new beginning for a city in turmoil, a city on the rise.

“They are tears of joy,” Brabham said.

The newly elected officials will be sworn in next Wednesday.