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No political races emerge from Town Caucus

Our Town with William Kelly: No political races emerge from Town Caucus

Mayor Danielle Moore and Town Council members Julie Araskog and Ted Cooney all were nominated without opposition at Tuesday’s Town Caucus to serve new two-year terms.

At the caucus, every candidate must be nominated, and their nomination twice seconded, for mayor or for a specific council seat. The absence of opposition means there will be no town election on March 14. Moore, Araskog and Cooney will be sworn to their new terms when their current terms expire in April.

About 40 people attended the congenial New England-style town meeting in the council chambers at Town Hall. It lasted for 50 minutes.

Moore was nominated for a second term as mayor by Michael Pucillo, a former council president who is now vice chairman of the Palm Beach Civic Association.

Pucillo said Moore cares deeply about the town, knows it well and possesses great leadership skills. As an example, he cited Moore’s response 18 months ago to the City of West Palm Beach’s notice to the town, late on a Friday night, that its drinking water was contaminated with the cylindrospermopsin cyanotoxin. West Palm Beach supplies drinking water to customers in Palm Beach.

“Early [the next] morning, [Moore] was on the phone with [Palm Beach Public Works Director] Paul Brazil, trying to find out what the problem was,” Pucillo said. “She promptly got a letter out to the mayor of West Palm Beach … and put in place a solution where we had a seat at the table at all meetings of the [West Palm Beach] water board … it was an example of [her] leadership, jumping in quickly and getting the problem solved.”

Moore’s nomination was seconded by Alfred “Skip” Aldridge and by Carla Termini Cove. Aldridge is co-chairman of the Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach and a director with the Civic Association.

Moore became mayor in April 2021 after being nominated without opposition to succeed Gail Coniglio, who retired after 10 years at the post.

Before becoming mayor, Moore was on the council for six years, two of them as its president. She joined the council in 2015 after unseating William Diamond in that year’s election and has been unopposed in her subsequent bids for re-election.

Moore is a Midtown resident, a prominent philanthropist and civic leader and the daughter of former Mayor Lesly Smith.

Araskog was nominated for a fourth term on the council by Peggy Margaret Moore. Her nomination was seconded by Susan Gary and by Gail Ellen Howe.

Gary said Araskog’s focus since joining the council has always been on putting residents first.She said Araskog proposed a highly effective “three strikes” policy against unruly contractors who work outside of authorized hours, park illegally on residential streets, or commit other violations of the town code.

Under the three-strikes rule, the town shuts down construction at the job site after a third offense. Work can’t resume until the contractor appears before the council.

“This has really benefited the residents, who now have some peace and quiet, and better-behaving contractors,” Gary said.

Araskog joined the council after defeating Martin Klein in the 2017 town election. She withstood a challenge from Rene Silvin in the 2019 election and was re-elected without opposition in 2021.

Araskog is an attorney and North End resident.

Cooney was nominated for a second term on the council by his father John Cooney. His nomination was seconded by Lawrence Kaplan and by Gail Coniglio.

John Cooney said his son has a passion for public service, does his homework and listens to the residents and experts on both sides of the issues before arriving at a position.

He said Cooney, who at age 37 is the youngest member of the council, brings a youthful enthusiasm to his elective post.

“His age brings a desire for a long-term perspective,” Cooney said. “That’s important for certain issues facing the town, such as water supply and infrastructure. We can’t just look for short-term solutions.”

Cooney was elected to the council in 2021 when he defeated Candace Rojas. Before that, he was a member of the Landmarks Preservation Commission for almost 10 years, nearly all of them as its chairman, and was on the Architectural Commission for one year.

Cooney is a realtor and Midtown resident.

The absence of opposition means 2023 will be the second consecutive year without a town election. Coniglio said in an interview afterward that it’s an indication that residents are happy with the performance of their elected officials.

“This council has given great care, deliberation and study as they go forward to make decisions on water, traffic and the development situation, both inside and outside the town,” Coniglio said.

Deborah Pucillo and Mark Zeidman were the honorary chair and secretary, respectively, of this year’s caucus.

The Civic Association’s Palm Beach TV will report on the caucus on Thursday, Dec. 8.


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