Full Slate to Oppose Sitting Council Members

Palm Beach Gardens elections in recent years have been predictable affairs. Because of the power they wield over businesses and residents alike, the incumbents have an enormous advantage. Campaign contributions, access to supporters in the gated communities, endorsements by other insiders – these advantages are sufficiently daunting to discourage challenges or weaken opponents that do come forward.

In 2013, Joe Russo was unopposed for re-election, as were Marcie Tinsley and Bert Premuroso in 2011. Eric Jablin and David Levy both drew challengers, but the built-in advantage of incumbency and name recognition helped them win with comfortable margins of 63% and 57% respectively. Low turnouts, combined with the concentration of voters in a few precincts, make the contests an insiders game. BallenIsles alone, with 6% of the registered voters accounted for 17% of the votes cast – and 79% went to the incumbent in 2013, 94% in 2011.

2014 is shaping up to be a wholly different matter. While there are other issues, the secretive and somewhat arrogant way the city (both staff and council) has approached the stadium proposal is provoking a backlash against the current council. Challengers have emerged to run against all three of the incumbents, and it is likely that the organizing done in opposition to the stadium location will change the dynamics.

Kevin Easton

In group 1, current Mayor and two term councilman Bert Premuroso is facing Kevin Easton, president of the PBG Neighborhood Coalition and 2011 council candidate. Mr. Easton is a Pratt & Whitney retiree, active in many community organizations, and a regular participant in the monthly council meetings. As a landowner in the 40th Street and Sunset area, he has organized his neighbors to push for infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood since it was annexed by the city. He opposed the communications tax and the rewriting of the city charter (which failed on the ballot in 2012), opposes the city’s involvement in the Inspector General lawsuit, and the way the stadium has been handled.

Michael Peragine

In group 3, Vice-Mayor and 21 year councilman Eric Jablin is opposed by Mirabella HOA president Michael Peragine. Mr. Peragine is a venture capitalist and owns a web-hosting firm. Opposed to the stadium location, he is responsible for the “movethestadium.com” website, and thinks the proposal has been mishandled by the city. His opponent, in office for 21 years, he feels is “out of touch” with the residents.

Robin Deaton

In group 5, newest council member Marcie Tinsley, elected in 2010 after the resignation of Jody Barnett, is faced by Bent Tree activist Robin Deaton. Ms. Deaton, an engineer with the South Florida Water Management District with a background in manufacturing engineering, environmental compliance and corporate finance, lives in Bent Tree near the site of the proposed stadium. In response to the perception that the city was moving forward with the stadium over the objections of her neighbors, she has been collecting petitions in opposition, and speaking at council meetings. She is unconditionally opposed to the proposed location for the stadium, and seeks more transparency on the council and effective oversight of city manager and staff.

Kevin Easton and Michael Peragine both sit on the board of “Palm Beach Gardens Needs Term Limits”, chaired by former council candidate James D’Loughy. The group seeks to put a term limits amendment on the November 2014 ballot.

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