Dorothy Jacks, longtime chief deputy to Nikolits, is set to be sworn in Tuesday at the 1916 Palm Beach County Courthouse.
Nikolits was elected to the post in 1992 and reelected five times since. He announced in May 2015 that he would not seek a sixth term. Jacks, who’d worked in the office for 28 years and been chief deputy since 2012, filed to succeed him.
When Palm Beach County Commissioners convened this morning as the governing board of the Solid Waste Authority, it was the first of many proceedings this fall in which the 7-member panel contains two lame ducks.
Commissioner Shelley Vana already was on her way out
because of term limits. But 3-term commissioner Priscilla Taylor fell in Tuesday’s election t0 former Delray Beach city commissioner and former state representative Mack Bernard.
As of press time Tuesday night, Bernard had clung to a lead of less than 3 percentage points. In the final overnight tally, which still doesn’t include the small number of provisional ballots, that lead held:
Mack Bernard 41.96% 7,413
Priscilla Ann Taylor 39.02% 6,894
Lawrence Gordon 13.66% 2,414
Robbie T. Littles 5.35% 946
For Vana and Taylor, at least for now, years and years of elected office come to a screeching halt; 17 for Taylor and 14 for Vana, who was soundly beaten Tuesday night by longtime Deputy Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks in the race to replace Jacks’ boss, the retiring Gary Nikolits.
At Wednesday morning’s Solid Waste Authority meeting, chair Hal Valeche acknowledge the “bad day” Taylor and Vana had on Tuesday. He said he’ll miss them and thanked them for their service and directed a round of applause.
A direct mail piece doesn’t just rip Palm Beach County property appraiser candidate Shelley Vana for attending what it described as a Donald Trump rally. It doesn’t just say she took gobs of money from developers and then voted for more growth.
The mail piece also says Vana, a county commissioner, voted for “the largest tax increase in Palm Beach County history.”
That vote, taken in May, was to have voters decide whether the county’s sales tax should be raised from 6 cents on the dollar to 7 cents on the dollar. That increase would generate an estimated $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.
Vana does back that sales tax increase. Her opponent in the property appraiser’s race, Dorothy Jacks, would not say if she supports the proposed sales tax increase, which will be on the ballot in November.
“I do not think it is proper for me to advocate for or against an issue which does not directly impact the duties and responsibilities of the Property Appraiser’s office,” Jacks said when asked about the sales tax plan in candidate survey from The Palm Beach Post. ” I am glad the voters get a chance to make a decision on this in November.”
Jacks isn’t taking a position on the sales tax proposal, but Rick Asnani, the man behind the anti-Vana flier, was squarely behind the proposal earlier this year.
Working with the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Asnani made presentations and pushed hard in favor of what the anti-Vana flier describes as “the largest tax increase in Palm Beach County history.”
When the commission voted not to use sales tax money to pay for projects backed by the Cultural Council, Asnani’s role in the sales tax push diminished.
Seated side-by-side during a political forum Tuesday night, Shelley Vana and Dorothy Jacks made their pitch to be Palm Beach County’s next property appraiser.
Vana, a county commissioner and former state legislator, and Jacks, the chief deputy property appraiser, clashed on what they would bring to the office.
Jacks said she understands the technical nuances of the job. Vana said the office is a political one that is best led by someone who has served in elected office.
The candidates, both Democrats, are seeking to succeed Gary Nikolits, who is retiring after 24 years as property appraiser. The primary election will be held on August 30.
With about 70 people looking on at the South County Civic Center, Vana and Jacks returned to that theme of leadership again and again.
“It is a very technical job,” Jacks said, adding that, in her, “you will have an expert at the top. You won’t have a politician but an expert leading the staff.”
Earlier, during her introductory remarks, Vana had laid out her credentials.
“You have two very good candidates here,” she said. “One has been an employee and one has been in leadership. In this office, you need a solid leader who sets the tone. You’re electing a Lee Iococca, not someone who screws in the screws.”
Jacks took that jab in stride. Indeed, much of the forum, sponsored by the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach, focused on technical aspects of the office.
The candidates were asked about the prospect of raising the county’s sales tax to pay for upgrades to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings.
Vana, who has supported the county’s plan to raise the sales tax, said she favors a mix of taxes. Jacks said she would first want to study how the county is spending money it already has before determining whether a sales tax increase is a good idea.
The candidates emphasized their endorsements. Vana noted that she is backed by state Reps. Dave Kerner and Irv Slossberg and a slew of other elected officials. Jacks said 18 property appraisers across the state have endorsed her, as have two of Vana’s colleagues on the county commission, Priscilla Taylor and Paulette Burdick.
While the candidates sparred on what they would bring to the office, each said they won’t be attacking each other on more personal terms, a point highlighted as the forum was ended when Jacks offer Vana a sip from her water bottle.
“Dorothy just shared her water with me,” Vana said. “And I wasn’t afraid to drink it.”