In Palm Beach Gardens, former mayor Marcie Tinsley faces political newcomer Rob Nanfro to fill the vacant Group 2 City Council seat. Two seats on the North Pam Beach Village Council are on the ballot.
| Palm Beach Post
PALM BEACH GARDENS — A native New Yorker who moved to the city nearly two years ago will challenge a former mayor in the race to fill a vacant Palm Beach Gardens City Council seat.
Rob Nanfro, a certified public accountant running his first political campaign, will face Marcie Tinsley, a land planner who previously served seven years on the council, for the Group 2 seat in the March 9 municipal election.
The seat was vacated in October after Maria Marino, also a former mayor, was elected to the Palm Beach County Commission. She had one year remaining in her second term, which was to end in March 2022.
The council voted not to fill her seat until the March election.
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Nanfro, 54, works for Toronto-based Lucien Capital Group. He decided to enter the race last fall after talking with residents about the direction of the city’s leadership.
Stressing the need for transparency in government, he objected to the council’s decision last month to issue a $14 million public improvement bond to finance the construction of an 18-hole, par-3 golf course on 115 acres of land given to the city by Avenir Holdings, which is building a 3,900-home community on western Northlake Boulevard.
Nanfro said the decision was premature. Residents did not have the proper time to review the information that the city put together, he said.
He also questioned the need to build a golf course on land that could be used in a way that would better serve the needs of a growing population.
“We need more open spaces, because in the next two or three years, we’re going to add 5,000 new houses between Avenir, Alton and Ancient Tree,” he said, also mentioning two other larger developments within the city limits.
“That’s 15,000 projected people. You need some space. I wouldn’t have used it for the golf course.”
Nanfro, who also advocates for preserving low-density neighborhoods amid the pandemic, said he welcomes the challenge of facing an opponent who is well-known to residents.
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Tinsley served on the council from 2010 to 2017 and was appointed mayor in 2016. She was not able to seek a third consecutive term because of term limits.
“I think I have much more experience than she does, especially with working with teams and people,” Nanfrop said, adding that he has led teams with as many as 30 members. “I’ve worked at multibillion-dollar companies. When it comes to government and bureaucracy, you learn what it is to get things done.”
In returning to politics for the first time in four years, Tinsley, 52, is touting her leadership, experience and history as a consensus builder.
During her tenure on the council, she helped put in place an economic development ordinance that provided incentives to encourage and keep businesses in Palm Beach Gardens. She also gained support to build The Gardens North County District Park and expand Joe Russo Park, and created a program for artistic bus shelters throughout the city.
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Her key issues for this campaign include helping residents and businesses navigate the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
She hopes to create points in the city to disperse vaccines to residents, and provide financial support for struggling businesses. Tinsley also urged the council to pass a resolution asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to supply vaccines to the city in concert with Publix’s vaccine distribution. The resolution passed unanimously Feb. 4.
Tinsley said she also wants to create green space and more recreation opportunities, preserve the city’s natural resources and address its growth in an attentive way.
“Development and traffic is a concern for most residents,” she said. “I would like to help our city grow in a thoughtful manner. My background has provided me the skills to ensure thoughtful growth patterns while balancing the needs of our residents,” she said.
PALM BEACH GARDENS CITY COUNCIL
Term: Until March 2022.
Salary: $32,082.24 annually
Note: Council members are elected by plurality, so there are no runoffs.
Name: Marcie Tinsley
Education: Florida Atlantic University, bachelor’s degree in planning and horticulture.
Professional: Land planner; vice president of the land management company Karl Corp.
Political: Served seven years on the Palm Beach Gardens City Council, including one as mayor. She also served on the city’s Park and Recreation Advisory Board and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.
Where she stands: Key campaign issues include keeping taxes low while maintaining a high level of services and programs for residents; creating green space and more recreation opportunities; preserving the city’s natural resources; and managing traffic and development while balancing the needs of residents.
She also hopes to assist residents and businesses through the pandemic by communicating facts and creating points to disperse vaccines to residents. Another goal is to support local businesses by providing financial support and relax regulations to help them advertise.
Name: Rob Nanfro
Education: Rutgers University, bachelor’s degree in accounting and master of accountancy; earned CPA qualification in 1992.
Professional: Certified public accountant
Political: No prior political experience.
Where he stands: Transparency in government, preserving low density and open spaces, and supporting local businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Nanfro questioned the City Council’s decision last month to issue a $14 million public improvement bond to finance the construction of an 18-hole, par-3 golf course on public land within Avenir, saying it was premature because residents did not have the proper time to review the information put together by the city. He also would like clearer live streams of City Council meetings.
Additionally, he would like to create workshops for business owners where they could learn how to fill out forms and make requests to receive pandemic relief.
NORTH PALM BEACH VILLAGE COUNCIL
Term: Until March 2023. Salary: $10,800 annually for the mayor; $9,000 annually for council members.
North Palm Beach, a 5.8-square-mile village in northeastern Palm Beach County, has 13,000 year-round residents and 20,000 seasonal residents. The village is overseen by five council members, who serve two-year terms. Two council seats are up for election this year:
Council Group 2: Susan Tiedemann Bickel is running against Colby Briggs
Council Group 4: David Norris is running against John Frerking
About the race: Susan Tiedemann Bickel, a longtime teacher and chair of the science department at the Benjamin School, is seeking her third term on the Village Council. Currently serving as mayor, she advocates for growth that balances residential concerns and needs. Her opponent for the Group 2 seat, estate manager Colby Briggs, is a political newcomer who supports greater transparency within the Village Council, an end to lane reductions on U.S. 1 and a rejuvenation of community parks. He also wants to repeal and rewrite the current boat and RV storage ordinance.
Attorney David Norris is seeking his 13th term on the council. He has served as mayor and vice mayor. His campaign issues include maintaining the village’s quality of life and public safety, encouraging proper redevelopment, providing a business-friendly environment and assisting families and small businesses that are struggling as a result of COVID-19. His opponent for the Group 4 seat is longtime North Palm Beach resident John Frerking, a retired pastor and refugee advocate who supports greater government transparency, term limits, repealing and rewriting the RV and boat storage ordinance, and improving the village’s recreation department.