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With COVID-19 at issue, Dave Kerner re-elected to Palm Beach County commission

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 11/4/2020 Wells Dusenbury, South Florida Sun Sentinel

In a vote of approval for his guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dave Kerner was re-elected for a second term on the Palm Beach County commission.

Kerner, a Democrat who also serves as county mayor, retained the District 3 seat by defeating Republican Jonathan Maples and write-in candidate Maria Garcia. District 3 includes parts of Boynton Beach and Lake Worth Beach.

The position of Palm Beach County mayor alternates between commissioners every year. While the role is usually ceremonial, it’s taken on increased importance during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to leading commission meetings, Kerner has been the public face of the county as mayor, holding news conferences and routinely speaking with Gov. Ron DeSantis about county policy.

During commission meetings, Kerner has frequently received vociferous condemnation from a group of “anti-maskers” upset about the county’s mask mandate. Despite the criticism, Kerner tripled Maples in campaign funds, raising $113,000 to Maples' $37,000.

In 2016, Kerner won 70% of the vote in the District 3 race. He lagged behind those numbers this year, coming in at 60%.

In the three other commission races, Mack Bernard cruised to re-election, while two newcomers were officially voted to the Palm Beach County commission.

Former state Sen. Maria Sachs captured the District 5 seat, while Palm Beach Gardens Vice Mayor Maria Marino won in District 1. Sachs and Marino are both filling seats vacated due to term limits.

In District 7, Bernard faced little resistance, besting non-party affiliation candidates Leonard Serratore and Caneste Succe. The District 7 seat includes most of coastal Palm Beach County’s poorest neighborhoods. To satisfy the rule that districts must be contiguous, a stretch of affluent towns — including a part of Palm Beach — connects the southern and northern portions.

A Democrat, Bernard amassed a significant campaign war chest of over $340,000, while Serratore and Succe combined for just $16,000.

One of two new additions to the county commission, Sachs will represent District 5 after defeating Republican David Shiner. Sachs, a Democrat, will fill the seat vacated by Mary Lou Berger, who was term-limited. District 5 includes the vast suburbs west of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.

Sachs previously served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2010 and then in the Florida Senate from 2010 to 2016. In this year’s commission race, she outraised Shiner $304,000 to $69,000.

For Marino, Tuesday’s election night results were essentially an afterthought after she won the District 1 primary in August. In that race, the Palm Beach Gardens vice mayor won 56% of the vote, beating longtime commissioner Karen Marcus and Tequesta councilman Calvin Turnquest for the Republican-dominated district in northern Palm Beach County.

On Tuesday night, Marino faced only a write-in candidate, Rhonda Buice. A former professional golfer on the LPGA Tour, Marino was first elected to the Palm Beach Gardens City Council in 2016. She’ll inherit the seat vacated by Hal Valeche, who is term-limited after being elected in 2012.

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©2020 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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