Search Results for: Straghn

Remembering A Lion: Alfred “Zack” Straghn

A civic giant.

When the history of Delray Beach is written, the name Alfred “Zack” Straghn is going to loom large.

He was a giant.

We lost Mr. Zack this week. He was 92 and still active, still vibrant, still finding what John Lewis called “good trouble.”

People were drawn to Zack Straghn because he told great stories, was enormously charismatic and possessed a hard-earned wisdom that came from a lifetime of living and working in Delray Beach.

He was born in Delray and told those of us who knew and loved him that the best decision he ever made was to never leave the city—even though at times he said it felt like a prison.

I’ve long believed that Delray is America in 16 square miles, but if you were African American in the 1950s and beyond the city was four square miles because you were not welcome east of Swinton and you couldn’t go to the beach.

Zack helped to desegregate our beach—it took eight years of protests to get it done. But it got done on April 29, 1962. Prior to that date, the city’s answer was to send Black people to an area of beach five miles away. That didn’t sit well with Zack and others and they decided to speak up.

“They sent us to another city to swim with a man with a shotgun watching us while we swam,” he told Channel 5 last year. “We are going to swim in the three miles of beach here and nobody is going to stop us because this belongs to us, we pay tax in this city and this is where we are going to swim,” he said.


I heard Zack tell that same story to a group of “young” lions a little while back at Donnie’s Golden Spoon restaurant on Northwest 5th Avenue. The young men sat and listened to every word. Zack and others held court at “Elders” breakfasts that I’ve been privileged to have been invited too on occasion over the years. It’s always an honor to be included; over eggs and bacon you are also served wisdom, history and spirited conversation about the future.

These tables and conversations are few and far between, but they are important. It’s where knowledge is shared, experience is relayed and subjects are debated with love, passion, wit and wisdom.

Alfred “Zack” Straghn saw it all in his 92 years in Delray. He saw heartache and discrimination. He saw births and as a funeral home owner he was there to usher people into “glory.”

He also saw progress in fits and starts. The beach he couldn’t visit until 1962 became a favorite place for him to reflect.

He would walk often with former City Commissioner David Randolph. I saw them a few times and I always wondered what they talked about on those early morning walks around town. So one day I asked Zack and in his distinctive voice—a voice so special and unique that once you heard it you never forgot it—he said they talked about everything: city politics, national politics, family, religion and life itself.

The great icons in our community were great because they share themselves.

They are visible.

They are available.

They teach. And if we are wise—we will listen.

If we want to succeed and build a better future we need to listen to those who came before us.

Zack is an icon and because he never went away and because he invested in the next generation of lions and lionesses he will be forever remembered and honored by those who will step forward to lead us in the future.

He was active in civil rights organizations, served briefly on the CRA, was a long time businessman, fed the needy on Thanksgiving, was involved in the Downtown Master Plan, counseled scores of elected officials and saw his children grow up to serve Delray too. One son, Randy, served with distinction with our Fire Department.

He was a voice, a steady presence, a leader and an inspiration.

When I was a rookie on the City Commission, Mr. Zack was presented with a key to the city by Mayor David Schmidt.

The headline that ran with the story in the Sun-Sentinel was “Activist Gets Key to The City He Unlocked.”
I thought that said it all. It was brilliant.

Over the summer, Zack was interviewed by a student for an initiative called the “Front Porch Project” sponsored by the nonprofit EJS Project.

In that interview, Mr. Straghn said “the best decision I ever made was to stay in Delray.”


It was a decision that paid dividends for all of us blessed to have known that fine man. He will be deeply missed.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Zack, your hometown is so grateful.

A Helping Hand

An army of volunteers helping others.

The first thing you notice when you enter the doors of Boca Helping Hands is the hustle and bustle.

Everywhere you look there are volunteers rushing about. It’s a Thursday and Boca Helping Hands is getting ready to serve hot meals to a growing line of people idling in their cars waiting for their dinner and a shopping bag full of carefully curated foods.

It’s a stunning sight to see—at once heartening and sobering. These are working people—our friends, neighbors, maybe even our co-workers who struggle to make ends meet in 2024 South Florida.

There’s a new term—at least to my ears—to describe these people: ALICE which stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. Many have several jobs to make ends meet. They struggle with housing, food costs, bills, and insurance. An unexpected expense can upend their world.

So, while it is encouraging to see the community respond, it is also heartbreaking to see the struggle. We have become a very expensive place to live.

Boca Helping Hands is on the front lines of this daily slog. While the name says Boca, the organization’s reach extends to central Palm Beach County including cities such as Delray Beach, Lantana and Lake Worth Beach.

Boca Helping Hands is a 25-year-old nonprofit that has become one of the largest service providers in South Florida serving almost 35,000 people a year. There are 23 staff members and more than 300 volunteers. The board is an impressive list of local business leaders led by Chairman Gary Peters, a retired securities executive whose family foundation has given generously to the nonprofit for years.

We’re proud to announce that the Carl Angus DeSantis Foundation has decided to help the cause with a $75,000 grant to expand an existing job training program.

The program speaks loudly to our philosophy of providing a “hand up, not a handout.” Our founder Carl Desantis believed in helping people find a sustainable path in life. Mr. D believed in education and training that could lift people to a better station in life.

The Boca Helping Hands Job Training Program (JTP) works with community partners to provide adult workforce training for unemployed and underemployed adults.

The program takes a holistic approach to their clientele identifying barriers to employment and providing mentoring, training, certifications and needed support to find and secure employment.

The program is run in three phrases starting with an assessment of individual needs followed by vocational training in one of 11 “in demand careers” and culminating in on-site or virtual mentoring to make sure clients stay employed.

Boca Helping Hands works closely with local workforce development programs, colleges, universities, and social service providers to make sure that programs are current and lead to employment. Clients receive help with food security issues, housing, and general well-being issues.

Boca Helping Hands invests in people and all that goes with that investment: care goes into making sure that issues like childcare, transportation and the ‘hiccups’ of life don’t derail the opportunity for a better life.

Careers include: commercial driver’s (starting salaries $60K), electrician, plumbers, HVAC repair, medical billing, and certified nursing assistants.

Since 2020, the program has helped 213 clients gain the skills they need to escape poverty.

The program is supported by others local partners including the Jim Moran Foundation, United Way of Palm Beach, and individual donors. There is a broad base of support.

During our visit, we met with Executive Director Greg Hazle, Director of Development Steve King and Director of Career Development Trina Chin Cheong. We also met with board member Dr. Sarah Lochner, a physician. We were impressed with their commitment and the smart design behind their training program.

The program is designed to make sure students succeed. They provide a lot of handholding and counseling to ensure success. The numbers back it up. And while the handholding may sound like a lot of work, it’s needed to ensure success. Life happens and there needs to be a plan to help people navigate the issues they encounter on the path to a better future.

If you can trade $15 an hour into a job paying $55K plus a year it makes a difference. It’s not an answer to all problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. Investments in programs that change lives is always worthwhile.





Michael Singer, a legendary sculptor and landscape architect, died last month at his home in Delray Beach.

Mr. Singer was so prominent that he earned a lengthy obituary in the New York Times, a rare honor.

I got to know Mr. Singer a little bit while serving on the City Commission from 2000-07. Michael would send me frequent emails, usually to weigh in on design and historic preservation.

The last time I saw him was a few years ago when we met for lunch with his partner Jason Bregman to discuss a project on Congress Avenue. Michael and Jason shared their work across the country, all of it remarkable. The firm had commissions in NYC, Denver International Airport, and a recycling center in Phoenix. Although we never had a chance to formally work together, I sure wish we had.

From his NYT obit: “Mr. Singer was often characterized as a landscape architect, and an accomplished one at that…But in fact he was an artist, one who saw his medium, and his ambition, in expansive yet humble terms, with work that attempted to remediate humanity’s disruption of the natural world.”

I highly recommend you take a look at the full obituary. Here’s a link:

The piece includes photos of Michael’s work. What a talent. May he rest in peace.

Father and Son

Close readers of this blog know I cherish old friends.

One of those friends lost his dad last week. Ron Willemstyn was a great guy and I have a ton of fond memories of spending hours and hours hanging out with his son Ben at his house in the “S” section in Stony Brook, N.Y.

Mr. Willemstyn worked for Grolsch beer, a premium brand known for their “swing top” bottles.

In his garage, he had a large collection of Grolsch and I wouldn’t be honest if I said we didn’t sample from the cache a time or two. The sophisticated taste was lost on our underage taste buds. We also spent our fair share of time trying to flick the “swing top” bottles open with one smooth move.

Ben could do it. I never could.

Those same bottles now sell for between $12 and $60 on ebay. They were cool and unique.

Mr. Willemstyn was much sharper than we were. He knew when we went astray. He had a humorous way of paying Ben back for any indiscretions—beer or otherwise. He would sneak into Ben’s room before daybreak after an especially rough night and wake Ben for some early morning physical chores. We got away with nothing, which is a good lesson. You pay when you play.

Later in life, Mr. Willemstyn lived in Port St. Lucie. He made frequent sojourns to Delray to sample the restaurants.

Mr. W was a great guy. He will be missed.


Bob Graham…

We lost Bob Graham last week at the age of 87.

The former Senator and Florida governor was someone I deeply admired.

I had two “encounters” with Senator Graham.

A number of years ago, we were on the same commuter plane from Tallahassee to Fort Lauderdale.

I saw the Senator when I boarded and said hello. Although we had met briefly a few times, I doubt remembered me, but he acted as if we were old friends.

When we got to Fort Lauderdale, we were greeted by police and K-9’s and asked to stand on the tarmac while the dogs sniffed our bags. Nothing was found. I don’t know what it was about, but I have a picture somewhere of one Florida’s greatest governors being given the once over by a large German Shepherd.

The second memory is a more positive one.

A few years back, I had a chance to see Governor Graham and former Miami Herald Publisher Dave Lawrence in conversation on stage at a Leadership Florida event. Seeing these two civic giants share stories, talk about the past, present and future was something I will never forget.

These are men of substance. Last week, we talked about long term players and I got to share my thoughts about Mayor David Schmidt and so I was in that mode of thinking about the difference people with gravitas can make in our world when I heard the news.

Bob Graham was one of those special people who brought intellect, class, dignity and intellectual rigor to the public square. In a world where the lightweights and haters often steal the spotlight, I remain thankful for those who transcend and transform.


Speaking of someone who transformed…

On April 28, the public is invited to attend a monument unveiling honoring Alfred “Zack” Straghn at 4 p.m. at the Delray Beach Pavilion on A1A near Atlantic Avenue.

If you want to join a processional to the event, please go to the Libby Wesley Amphitheater on West Atlantic Avenue at 3 p.m. for a walk to the beach.

The walk is symbolic because the late Mr. Straghn was a key figure who opened our beach to Black citizens.

A committee, led by retired fire chief Kerry Koen, raised the funds for the monument. I was privileged to be on the committee. It was a labor of love for all of us, but Kerry was the driving force.

The two men shared a unique and valuable friendship when Kerry led our Fire Department and Zack was running a local funeral home.

Mr. Straghn was a lifelong mentor to countless community leaders, a wonderful man, and a great contributor to our city. It is fitting that his contributions will be memorialized.

When Mr. Straghn passed in 2020, I wrote this. Check it out if you want to learn more about this civic treasure.

The Teachers In Our Midst

The chiefs who left a legacy: Kerry Koen and Rick Overman attending the Bronze Star ceremony at Old School Square for retired Officer Skip Brown.

If you’re lucky, teachers show up in your life long after you’ve tossed your last mortar board in the air.

I’m lucky.

I’ve been blessed with the best teachers imaginable.

They’ve taught me lessons large and small. They’ve taught me things I didn’t know, and they have reminded me of things I may have forgotten but shouldn’t have.

The best teachers may not even know that they’re educators, they just share their hard-earned wisdom in doses you can absorb and at times when you need to hear what they have to say.

This piece is dedicated to my good friend Kerry Koen. To call Kerry a teacher is an understatement. He’s more like a professor and I’ve hung on to every word of his eloquent lectures for a long time now.

If the name Kerry Koen rings a bell, it’s because he’s a revered retired fire chief who served both Delray Beach and Boca Raton with distinction.

Chief Koen is universally respected, and that’s a rare thing these days.

Let’s face it; we’re a cynical lot, aren’t we? Not the good readers of this blog of course, but society as a whole.

We’ve become snarky and insensitive. We don’t give weight to expertise, service, integrity, intelligence, and kindness.

Institutions we once had faith in, we no longer trust.

But I still believe.

I believe in the good people I’ve met and grown to love and respect.

In the top tier of that list is my friend and teacher Kerry.

We became friends through my involvement in Delray—first as a reporter, later as a city commissioner and finally as a mayor and now way beyond that blip in my life.

Kerry had left Delray before I got elected and served Boca with distinction before being lured back by City Manager David Harden.

We had a solid relationship during my commission tenure; Kerry taught me a lot about the fire service and the challenges of serving a city as complex as Delray Beach.

Our downtown had come to life on his watch and while that was good, it presents challenges as well, especially if you are in the public safety business. Large crowds, lots of traffic, special events, tourists, alcohol. It’s a lot.

Then 9/11 happened and our world and our little city changed. Now when we rode with firefighters on the bright red engines and handed out treats on Halloween, we would receive calls from panicked parents concerned that the sugar spilled on the kitchen table from their kid’s candy buckets might be anthrax. We found out that several of the 9/11 plotters were living in our city—going to our library, filling prescriptions at our downtown pharmacy, attending our local gyms.

It was the end of the innocence. Our world was forever changed.

In dangerous times, we look for extraordinary leadership. Our little city had that with Chief Koen and Chief Rick Overman, who ran our police department.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that Mayor David Schmidt never lost sleep about doings at City Hall because he had faith in city staff. I’ve been thinking about that statement, and it was true for me as well.

I lost sleep over my ability to handle a racially charged shooting, hurricanes, and other controversies but I never lost sleep over whether our fire or police departments could protect and serve us.

I had faith in the men and women who served, and that faith continues today. And in my opinion, Kerry played a big role in building a magnificent Fire Department that continues to serve us long after his retirement.

We can trust that when we dial 911 that we will receive top-notch services. We can trust that if we face an emergency—manmade or Mother Nature- that we are in good hands.

Kerry’s superpower —so to speak— is to always see the big picture. He has an analytical mind and draws connections to the past and the future. He “sees” where we are headed and generously shares his thoughts which are prescient, deeply felt and ultimately hopeful.

He sees trends and is steeped in history.

But he’s also current and forward-thinking, which is of great help to those of us who cherish his friendship.

Still, I find myself thinking of his time as chief and how deeply I admired his approach to the job.

We are a diverse community and Kerry got out of his office at the main station on West Atlantic to engage with civic leaders. He grew close to people like Alfred “Zack” Straghn, a local civil rights icon, and he cultivated strong relationships with the people of Highland Beach. His department served Highland Beach and he took that mission to heart.

The relationship between Delray and Highland Beach was win-win and now that’s gone. Losing that contract is a loss for both municipalities—a mistake that I would wager would not have happened if Kerry could have helped it.

After my 7 years of service, Kerry vowed to stay in touch. And he did. He made the effort. We began to meet for lunch and conversation. There were phone calls and emails too. Every interaction is memorable. He taught and I listened and learned.

He sent me interesting pieces to read, suggested subjects for this blog, shared wonderful photos of his travels and coached me through my ups and downs.

He showed me things—passages from books, meaningful quotes, historical tidbits and invited me into his home to show me a fire bell display he had built over time.

He has such unique insights. He sees the things I miss. He changes how I view issues and how I see the world itself.

And remarkably, I am not alone. There is a large cohort of us who benefit from Kerry’s generous intellect. He has “groups” in Boca and Delray—connections in Chicago, Memphis and Illinois that he tends too lovingly.

Some of us know each other and we marvel at his capacity to build and sustain relationships.

When I think of the richness of this world, how much there is to know, experience and learn, I get overcome with gratitude.

The experts say there is an epidemic of loneliness in this world. Last week, loneliness was labeled a public health issue.

There is no vaccine for loneliness, but there is a remedy: connection.

These days my community involvement is much smaller than it used to be. Some of it is cultural, (Delray is a different place but a new day has dawned!), some of it is where I am in life and in my career, but I’ve tried to keep up as best I can with the special people. We may not see each other much, but the connection is there.

The ties that happily bind us all.

With Kerry Koen it’s easy, because he makes the effort, checks in and because he cares so much.

He’s remarkable. A gift—- to so many lives. And for that I am  forever grateful.



Our Proud History: Remembering Mrs. Pompey

Pompey Park is more than just a name.

Editor’s Note:
I’m posting this blog a few days early because we are off to see Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in Orlando and I know I will be too tired to post Monday. Seeing Bruce and the band after 7 long years of waiting is an emotional experience for us “Spring-Nuts” so I’m taking Monday off.

It’s Black History Month and I’m thinking about some of the people who made history right here in Delray Beach.

There are so many local giants, special people who led the way and left a legacy of love and service.

But this year, I’m thinking about one woman in particular: H. Ruth Pompey.

The H was for Hattie.

Mrs. Pompey passed away in 2009.

I miss her.

Mrs. Pompey was married to C. Spencer Pompey, a legendary civil rights leader, coach, and educator.

I’ve been reading Mr. Pompey’s book “Many Rivers to Cross” which his wife published after he passed and maybe that’s why I’ve thinking about Mrs. Pompey.

But there’s another reason she’s on my mind; and while I’m at it I’ve also been thinking about these folks too: Alfred “Zack” Straghn, Elizabeth “Libby” Wesley, Nadine Hart, Loretta and Sam McGhee, Joe and Carolyn Gholston,  David and Mary Randolph, Vera Farrington, Lula and Len Butler, Red and Yvonne Odom and Beatrice Tyson.

There are others. So many others. But for now, that list will do.

These were the matriarchs and patriarchs that shaped so many lives in Delray—mine included. We’ve lost many of them, but a few are still around.

We should be grateful for them all.

I’m thinking about them because they possess a common trait: they shared their wisdom with others.

All of them sought out promising up and comers, sat them down, and shared what they had learned. And they were sought out as well.  Smart people called them and asked them to share their thoughts, perspectives, and experiences.

It was an informal system and it worked because you learn from your elders and if you’re smart you take what they have learned, and you leverage that knowledge. You stand on the shoulders of those who came before. You reap the harvest from the seeds they struggled to plant and nurture.

That’s how progress happens, you build on the work of past leaders. You don’t rip things down and you don’t incinerate the hard work of others.

People like Mrs. Pompey were stewards. We need stewards because they understand what’s precious and what’s worth preserving.

It’s easy to rip something down.

It’s a lot harder to build something of value.

And sometimes when you erase things they are gone for good.  It’s like taking a tree and chopping off its limbs. Often, that tree dies and you’ve lost something majestic forever.

I wonder sometimes whether we understand that cruel rule.

I’ve been reading a lot about Tyre Nichols; trying to make sense of his senseless murder in Memphis. I wanted to know more; to feel more before he is lost forever and replaced by the next headline. And there’s always another headline isn’t there?

I learned that Mr. Nichols was a father, a skateboarder and a photographer who loved capturing sunsets. I have a friend who does the same thing. His name is Kerry and he was once a firefighter in Memphis. Yes, the universe connects us in magical ways.

I’ve also been reading about our Governor and the brouhaha over the AP African American History curriculum. I wonder who he’s consulted, who he’s sat with or if he’s consulted with anyone at all.

And I’ve been seeing the rage on social media that exists in our own community about our community and I’m left to wonder.

What would my friend H. Ruth Pompey say about it all?

Are there people like her still around? Do our leaders seek them out?

I did.

I spoke to many, and they carried me through every crisis, real or imagined in my life. There were many. When you step into the arena, crises come with the territory.

When Mrs. Pompey passed, I got a call from her daughter asking me to eulogize her mother. I had spoken at Mr. Pompey’s funeral in 2001. It was a great honor because he was a great man.

I was touched by the request to pay tribute to Mrs. Pompey.

I recently found the eulogy searching through emails that Mrs. Pompey sent me through the years. I wanted to hear her “voice”, I wanted to connect once more.

She didn’t write me often, she preferred phone calls or visits, but her emails were always full of encouragement and wisdom.

Hope too.

She was full of hope. And she had ambition. Dreams for her community, dreams for the world.

So, I wonder what she would make of “all this” …I don’t have a word for what we are going through. But I hope you know what I mean.

A young man died on the streets of Memphis calling for his mother….

In a few days, some of us will mark the 18th year since our community lost 15-year-old Jerrod Miller. But I suspect that most of us don’t know that name. Or remember what happened right here in our town. Please Google his name because it was an important event in our city.

Many of the people I mentioned earlier got us through that tragedy.

Their wisdom and perspective helped us immeasurably.

They are all part of our history; part of our fabric; part of our town’s DNA.

I fear we are losing that thread.

If you care to read, I’ve shared what I said at my friend’s funeral all those years ago.

She was so special.

We were so blessed.

Remembering Mrs. Pompey…

In the Jewish tradition there is a poem that is often read when a great woman passes.


The hymn is called “A Woman of Valor” and as soon I heard the news about Mrs. Pompey…my thoughts turned to the sentiments expressed in that beautiful 22-line poem, which was the eulogy that Abraham delivered for his wife Sarah.


“A Woman of Valor is worth more than pearls..”


Mrs. Pompey was a woman of valor and her beauty, her elegance, her wisdom, her intelligence, and her love has enriched all of our lives and the community that she called home from the age of 3…her beloved Delray Beach.


Mrs. Pompey’s life was poetry.


Like a poem there was a grace to her that defies my ability to describe…But if you knew her…if you experienced her essence for even a knew that you were with someone who understood the world…saw its beauty and its pain…and yet radiated hope, love and kindness for all her days.


She had a quality that very people that you meet in this life have…it was a light…


A light that shined so brightly that it not only illuminated her and her family…but also those of us who were blessed to know her….she lit up Delray Beach and this world for 86 years and while we are all saddened by her passing…we are grateful that her light shined for as long as it did on our lives and on our community…we are forever enriched by her presence…the poem that was her life….


I met Mr. and Mrs. Pompey when I was a 22-year-old newspaper reporter…new to Florida…new to my profession…and new to this community.


I sought the Pompey’s out because everyone I spoke with in town said that if I wanted to understand Delray…the history that didn’t necessarily show up in traditional texts…I needed to sit with Mr. and Mrs. Pompey.


And so I did.

We sat in their parlor, where they took time to educate a stranger so that I may do my job better…Mr. and Mrs. Pompey were great teachers and wonderful storytellers and because of the time they spent with me I fell in love with this community…its stories, its promise…its potential and most of all its people.


When I first contemplated public service…I spoke with Mr. and Mrs. Pompey right after I consulted my immediate family. It is fair to say that without their blessing and encouragement I would not have run for office…such was the esteem that I held them in. Their belief in me inspired me…but also instilled in me a huge sense of responsibility.


“If you are going to serve, then make your service matter”…that’s a direct quote from Mrs. Pompey.

“ Don’t waste this opportunity,” she told me with a smile. “The sun rises, the sun sets…don’t hold anything back…make your service and your time on this Earth count.”


I wrote those words down in my reporter’s notebook and carried it with me in my heart and my mind through seven years of trials and tribulations in public office.


I loved Mrs. Pompey and I know she loved me…because she told me so. During some of my darkest moments…the kind of times when you question whether you have the fortitude to go on, I’d sneak over to her house across the street from the park named for her dear husband and she never failed to set me straight. Never…


I later learned she performed the same miracles for many others over decades and decades of life and service to others…she made each of us lucky enough to be exposed to her wisdom…..her poetry…feel like we were the most special people in the world. We were certainly the most fortunate…


I am a lucky man…because I have had 7 such special forces in my life…Mr. and Mrs. Pompey… Ms. Elizabeth Wesley…my grandfather, my mother, father and my wife…Three of those people are not kin, in the traditional sense anyway….but it didn’t matter …they made me feel like family.


Mrs. Pompey called me cousin Jeff…we were blood she joked…because several years ago I was privileged to donate blood after one of Mrs. Pompey’s surgeries.


“It’s official,” she said “We’re cousins.” And truth to be told… I did feel closer to her.


My wife reminded me this week of one of her favorite sayings…death does not end a relationship…the love goes on…and that is so true. And to the Pompey family…and all of us gathered here…we will continue to have a relationship with Mrs. Pompey because her lifeforce, her wisdom, the lessons she taught all of us will endure forever.


Mrs. Pompey…like her husband… was a visionary. She believed in education. She believed in G-D…she believed in community, service, sisterhood, and the potential of this city to be a beacon for the rest of America…and because she believed …we did too.


She worried about today’s young people…and we talked about the young men and women she saw outside her window…she took pride in those who sought knowledge and opportunity.


And she worried…really worried– about those left behind to wander the streets.


We spoke through the years about Delray’s history, and she told me of her husband’s many crusades…always playing down her role in his remarkable life. But we knew better…There were times—and I experienced a few of them…when she held this community together.


Mr. Pompey…he loved her so…they crossed many rivers together and showed us all a better future….


When Mr. Pompey passed in 2001, the light in Mrs. Pompey’s eyes dimmed…of course she had enough to light up a football field…but you could see she was not quite the same…Still… she persevered… it was tough though.


She missed the love of her life, every moment of her life.


Together they crossed so many rivers….integrating the beach right here in Delray…fighting for equal pay for African American teachers…ensuring that black children received the same number of days of instruction as their white neighbors and so much more…she never felt her work was done…my friends…that’s how the great ones think…as much as they achieve…as many accomplishments as they rack up…they see how much work there is left to do…they see the possibilities where others see limitations…they see more rivers to cross, which was the name of Mr. Pompey’s book.


And I wonder…as we lay Mrs. Pompey to rest alongside the love of her life…I wonder where we find people to take up the mission she so gladly and so gracefully took on.

She not only lived a good life, but a grand life. She did big things…she was a long-term thinker…she stood for causes larger than herself. There was no agenda…other than making her piece of the world better for others.


My hope is that the life she has led…this great woman of valor….is an inspiration for all of us to rise above our own problems and endeavor to make this world, this community a better place…find a river to cross…the rivers are there… all around us…


I’ll conclude with a funny anecdote…I hope it brings a smile to your face on this sad day…


Near the end of Mr. Pompey’s incredible life…we decided to hire a sculptor to capture the image of this great man in Bronze…sadly shortly after his sitting for the sculpture, Mr. Pompey passed away. But the project continued and the sculptor…inspired by Pompey’s legacy…finished her masterpiece…


The finished product was larger than life. Literally.


It also didn’t look anything like Mr. Pompey…in fact…truth be told…when we showed it to people, they thought it looked like Zack Straghn….


But the artist insisted she captured Mr. Pompey’s spirit, and so we showed the sculpture to Hattie Ruth…now we all know how polite and genteel she was. Her greatest delight was showing her friends pictures of her sororities debutantes…taking great pride in their appearance and their manners…


True to form….she looked at the sculpture and not having the best poker face…it was clear that she thought it looked like Mr. Straghn too…but she didn’t want to hurt the artist’s feelings so she said she could…well…live with it.


So, the artist left and a day or so passed…a few of us called just to make sure that she was OK with this sculpture…we reminded her that this piece was going to be in City Hall in her hometown forever…and that as much as we loved Mr. Straghn…and you certainly deserve your very own sculpture sir…maybe we ought try again.


And so, we did. And the artist…our dear friend George Gadson, got it right. But Mrs. Pompey made sure we didn’t hurt the original artist. That was Mrs. Pompey always concerned about others.


Today that sculpture greets all those who come to the heart of power and citizen led government in Delray Beach…it is my wish that we add to that collection and find a way to honor Mrs. Pompey so that generations of people who visit, live, work and study in Delray shall know the impact of this great woman and this great family.


Their memory should be a daily and living reminder of sacrifice…service over self…civility….and equal opportunity for all.


She once gazed out her window and worried about the youth of this community…we can cross that river in her honor and do our best as a village to heal those whose lack of direction in life troubled her so.


Mrs. Pompey loved poetry— her favorite poet was Paul L. Dunbar. I read his works this week as I mourned the loss of my friend…my family member by blood….and I drew comfort from the words of this African American poet who died at 33 in 1905….


This is a poem called “The Farmhouse by the River”…When I read this, I want you to picture that small ranch house overlooking Pompey Park….


“I know a little country place where still my heart does linger,

And over its fields is every grace lined out by memory’s finger.

 Back from the lane where poplars grew and aspens quake and quiver,

There stands all bath’d in summer’s glow a farm house by the river.

 Its eaves are touched with golden light so sweetly, softly shining,

 And morning glories full and bright about the doors are twining.

And there endowed with every grace That nature’s hand could give her, there lived the angel of the place in the farm house by the river.”


Mrs. Pompey crossed many rivers …she was the angel of a place call Delray…and she will live in our hearts forever….

Community & Connections

“ What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Don’t you love that quote?
I’ve been thinking about loneliness lately. 
It’s been two years since I recovered from Covid after spending 39 days in isolation at Bethesda Hospital. 
For me, and for millions of others, Covid was a profound experience. The virus changed our world, altered our society and ended and upended the lives of so many people all over the world. 
But even though I was isolated in the hospital I was never alone. I had a community behind me. What a blessing that was. I believed it saved me. 
I’m reliving the power of community this week through the magic of Facebook memories. 
Throughout my hospitalization, I received a steady barrage of encouraging messages and prayers from the community. It was powerful and profound. I’ve been moved all over again just by scrolling through the memories. 
The power of community. What a beautiful thing to behold. 
I saw it again last week when I tuned in remotely to watch the funeral service of former City Commissioner Bob Costin. 
We are deeply saddened by the loss of Bob who was beloved by so many. 
But we are also reminded of the example he set. His was a life of service and dedication to family, friends, country and community. 
Bob loved the community he built here in Delray, at his lake house in Georgia and among fellow RVers and florists. 
Community enriched him, strengthened him and in turn he gave his communities so much. 
Pat Canning, who we lost last week, also understood the power of community and service as did her late husband Vince Canning, who was a legendary civic leader. 
Watching Bob’s funeral and reading tributes to Mrs. Canning, I was reminded of our better angels and better times.  
Across town, our City Commission was meeting and while I don’t watch those meetings I was sent a clip that bothered me. The clip showed a local philanthropist who gave $2 million to Old School Square standing before our elected representatives and wondering aloud why her donation was squandered (the project she funded was not completed when the commission voted 3-2 to terminate Old School Square’s lease after 32 years of service and community building). Margaret Blume, that generous philanthropist, is a wonderful person. If you watch the clip, you can’t help but notice the hurt and disbelief in her voice. She was never thanked. The theater and museum she loves both sit dark. The community she hoped to be benefit with her generosity , is not being served by vacant buildings. 
Friends, we need to tend to our community. We need to repair the parts of the fabric that have been torn. 
We need to honor the memories of our civic leaders who understood that service, love, respect, dialogue and kindness are building blocks that create great and happy places. 
We long to live in a community that wraps its arms around us. It’s a choice. We can do it.  But we need to be intentional about what we want to be. 
At that same commission meeting, a citizens group of which I am a part, led by former Fire Chief Kerry Koen told the commission about a plan to honor the late Alfred “Zack” Straghn, one of Delray’s civic heroes, with a plaque outlining his tireless efforts to make our community a better and more inclusive place. 
The idea seemed to be embraced. That’s a good thing. A start. 
We have so much work ahead of us. 
We may or may not be able to heal the divisions affecting our wonderful country. But I hope we will. 
We cannot bring back those lost to a brutal pandemic. But I pray we can heal those suffering from the lingering effects of long Covid and I hope we can comfort the families of those who lost loved ones. 
I also hope that we will spend some time thinking about those who serve our community as volunteers. 
Volunteers are precious commodities. 
They don’t volunteer for the glory or the credit, they give back because they love something. 
They deserve our thanks and our respect. 
That’s not controversial, that’s basic. 
To come full circle. Take another look at that Vonnegut quote. 
We live in a society of devices. We are buried in our phones, wrapped in headsets and ear buds. 
We work remotely. We date by scrolling through photos on an app. We get our news in silos that agree with our particular beliefs. 
These days we have our own set of facts and we fail to trust institutions we once banked on. 
It’s a recipe for loneliness. 
But the antidote  to loneliness is community. 
It’s a time to reconnect. It’s time to rebuild. It’s time to say thank you. 
It means everything. 
Two years ago, this community wrapped it arms around me and my family. It made all the difference and I’m forever grateful.
I’ve experienced the benefits and I’ve seen the downside when community erodes.
There’s no comparison. Community heals. 

Delray Memories….

Over 1,000 images from Delray’s rich history adorn the grounds of the Historical Society.

If you want to give yourself a safe holiday treat, head on over to the Delray Beach Historical Society, 111 N. Swinton Avenue, and lose yourself in 100 years of history.

The “Delray Memories” exhibit is a must-see and it’s outside so it’s safe and socially distant.

We went on Friday afternoon and quickly got immersed in over 1,000 photographs on display from the Society’s archives and family submissions. In a word, it’s great.

If you’ve lived in Delray Beach for any length of time you’ll be reminded of the ties you feel to this community. If you are new to town or just visiting, the exhibit is a fascinating trip through time that will increase your understanding of this special place.

For us,  30 plus year residents, it was just wonderful to stroll the grounds of the Historical Society and lose ourselves in photos of people we’ve known and loved. It was also a chance to see a glimpse of people we’ve heard of but never had the chance to meet. You come away with a deep appreciation of community and the journey we’ve all been on.

With every step, Diane and I were transported back in time. You really felt like you were visiting with special people. There was my dear friend retired Fire Chief Kerry Koen standing outside a station looking confident and in command—as he always was. A few steps away were photos of my heroes H. Ruth and Spencer Pompey young and vibrant. There was the wonderful Ernie Simon and the lovely Lula Butler rehearsing their lines for a play celebrating Delray’s Centennial. There was a young Bob Currie and a vibrant Libby Wesley. There were photos of our beach, long ago parades and pioneers using a barge to cross the Intracoastal Waterway.

There were photos from the Delray Chamber and you are reminded that the organization has been around for more than 90 years and has played such an important role in our town.

We saw photos of a young Chamber Executive Ken Ellingsworth, football star Bobby Butler, the amazing Betty Diggans and the always friendly and kind Charlie Gwynn. Such special people. So many amazing contributors.

As a former mayor, I have a special interest in people who held that post in the past.

The exhibit has photos of Mayor Doak Campbell playing tennis, Leon Weekes riding in a parade and Tom Lynch in a top hat talking to Commissioner David Randolph, also in a tux and tails during what I think was an Easter Bonnet stroll. I had a chance to see Mr. Randolph later that evening at the viewing for the legendary Zack Straghn and you can’t help but feel that sense of connection and history. That’s community.

We are all tied together and while people come and go, their contributions live on and their work adds a distinct flavor to this place we call home.

When I see these kind of exhibits I’m always taken by the photos of Ethel Stirling Williams, a Delray pioneer whose name adorns the Society’s Learning Center and Archives. Ms. Williams, an early educator, businesswoman and community leader is radiant in every photo and I wonder what this young woman was thinking about life in Delray and where this town may go.

I have similar thoughts when I see photos of a dashing mayor named Jack Saunders.

If you’ve been to City Hall’s Commission Chambers you may have seen the walls adorned by the portraits of Delray’s mayors.

As a young reporter, I used to sit in those chambers covering mayors Campbell, Lynch and Jay Alperin and my eyes would always wander to those portraits of the past mayors. For some reason I was always drawn to the portrait of Mayor Saunders (maybe it was the hat he was wearing) and to Mayor Catherine Strong, our first female mayor.

The Delray Memories exhibit has lots of photos of a young and dapper Saunders and an always smiling Mayor Strong, who radiates confidence and kindness. I’ve always heard she was very special and I wish I had to chance to meet her and hear her stories, what she liked and what she struggled with during her time in office.

History is special. It can bind us together if we care enough to slow down long enough to look back. It can also light the way forward and it never fails to give us perspective and context.

The Delray Beach Historical Society, under the capable leadership of Winnie Edwards, has really done a great job of preserving, celebrating and sharing the history of our village.

Winnie’s love for Delray and its history is evident and shines through in these bleak times.

If you want to lift your spirits, enjoy the great outdoors and fill up on a big dose of civic pride stop by the Memories exhibit. You’ll be glad you did.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. Stay safe and enjoy this special time of year.

Honoring The Covenant

I don’t like misinformation.

I don’t like bullies.

And I really do not like those who traffic in disrespect; which makes social media a minefield for me.

One of the worst things about platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is the ease by which we can easily step on the mines that are lies, bullying and disrespect.


The lies and negativity run rampant in our news feed, often spread, sadly by those we know. By those who ought to know better.

Last week, I saw a thread that really bothered me. By that I mean get under your skin and make you scream kind of bother.

Oh, I’ve gotten used to the garden variety poop we see these days: the insensitivity, the lack of empathy, the political drivel that for some reason people feel compelled to share.

But my skin crawls when people make sweeping pronouncements that discount, write off and outright lie about our recent  history here in Delray Beach.

I get irked when particular misinformation finds its way into the digital realm because I fear that the old adage is true: a lie will travel halfway around the world before the truth puts its pants on.

I used to think that the truth would prevail. I believed that the truth was a stubborn thing and it would refuse to go away.

Not anymore.

We now live in an age where there are no objective facts. That’s a helluva thing. Orwellian, dangerous and deadly.

Have mercy on us, because this kind of magical thinking is not only hurtful its potentially ruinous.

We have enabled this kind of culture. And if left alone, this destructive paradigm will bite us. It will bite us hard. It already has.

From masks to vaccines. From climate change to the integrity of our elections, we are seeing how divisive it can be when each of us is entitled to “alternative facts”—whatever that is.

But what chafed me recently was not the tired debate over something important like whether Covid is deadly but rather an inane argument over whether prior mayors, CRA staff and city staff were committed to helping our neediest neighborhoods and people.

As a former mayor married to a former CRA Director with close friends who were city staffers, mayors, Commissioners  and CRA staff, the assertion that nothing was done until the city commission took over the CRA is not only wrong, it’s insulting.

It’s dismissive and disrespectful to generations of staff, elected leaders and volunteers who devoted years of their lives to public service and rightly take pride in that service.

So I won’t let it pass.

I can’t let it pass.

It is not about claiming credit.

It’s about telling the truth.

And the truth is this.

For a generation, there has been a sincere effort to direct public and private investment to neglected neighborhoods.

Has it been enough?


Nobody ever said it was. More investment is needed. Much more.

We need better schools, more opportunities and more thinking about how we can all work together to lift up everyone who lives in our city.

But to say that nothing has been done is wrong.

It’s a lie.

And it disrespects years of work by scores of community leaders, including a slew of “Elders” who worked closely with elected leaders and dedicated staff—or at least those who were smart enough to listen. And many were.

Truth is, we’ve seen a fraying of these efforts in recent years.

In Delray, we once talked about a “covenant.”

We once asked/hoped and expected that leaders would honor that covenant.

My understanding of the covenant is that when you sought a leadership position in Delray Beach, you were expected to listen, collaborate, learn, respect and do whatever you could to help those in our community who needed it most.

As an elected official, you did not get to claim that you honored the covenant; that was an honor given to you by the people. But only if you earned it. Only if you delivered real results not election year spin.

As a reporter, elected official and citizen I stood in awe of people like Libby Wesley, Vera Farrington, the Pompey’s, David Randolph, the Gholston’s, the Ramirez’s, Zack Straghn, legendary pastors and public employees who devoted their lives to the neighborhood we now call The Set.

Some won’t call the Northwest and Southwest neighborhoods  that name.

Why not?

As we approach the holiday season, the end of a brutal year, we ought to take stock.

As we lay one of our community heroes Alfred “Zack” Straghn to rest this weekend we ought to take a deep breath and assess where we are–as people and as a community.

Mr. Zack wasn’t satisfied nor should he have been with the state of our city. That’s not a criticism, but an acknowledgement that when you love and care about a community your work is never done. You are not allowed to rest on your laurels and you are not allowed let problems go unaddressed–they must be met with answers and careful attention. No Zack was not satisfied, nor was Mr. and Mrs. Pompey or the wonderful Miss Libby. But they also would have told you that they were proud of the progress that had been made and appreciative of all those rowing in the right direction.

Why can’t we respect the hard work done in the past, knowing the task is incomplete and that the promise of Delray is unfulfilled?

Why is it so easy to dismiss the work done by people who have devoted their lives and careers to this town?

Successful cities build brick by brick, inch by inch, year after year. Real leaders look forward, they don’t seek to rewrite history they seek to make history.

The Dream Is Local


Local government can play a big role in improving race relations. It’s a choice.

Local government can play a big role in race relations. It’s a choice.

We got a nice email from the Delray Beach Historical Society last week.

The Historical Society is planning to take a deep dive into the history of race relations in Delray Beach. Working with the Spady Museum, the Historical Society plans to review a study they did with FAU in 2004.
At that time, more  than 100 people gave oral histories on their experiences in our town.
The effort was part of a race relations effort that the City of Delray Beach was doing at the time.
I was Mayor back then and along with Conmissioner Alberta McCarthy, we spearheaded an effort to explore race relations with a goal of building community unity and talking about some thorny issues that have impacted our city for decades.

Delray Beach is a diverse city but we are also a segregated one, with a line —Swinton Avenue—separating East from West, black from white.
As a native New Yorker, it was the first thing I noticed when I discovered Delray in 1987.
I rarely saw African American people “downtown” or at the beach. And I rarely saw people who looked like me on West Atlantic Avenue. I always found that odd. And while people mostly got along, there would be periodic flashpoints that would remind everyone that race was very much an issue in Delray Beach as it is throughout America.

As a young journalist assigned to cover Delray, I caught the eye of C. Spencer Pompey and his wife H. Ruth Pompey.
They were community giants; civil rights leaders, educators and held in immense esteem by everyone in town.
They invited me into their home adjacent to Pompey Park, a place named in their honor.
I felt at home with the Pompey’s and visited on many occasions. We would sit in the living room of their comfy home and they would tell me stories about Delray for hours.
I couldn’t get enough.
The Pompey’s generosity helped my reporting at the time and later would inform my tenure on the City Commission.
Soon after, I met Elizabeth Wesley, another community icon who founded the Roots Cultural Festival. There is a plaza named in Libby’s honor on West Atlantic. She would go on to play a big role in my life as she did for countless others. Around this time, I also got to know and cover the career of Commissioner David Randolph, who to this day as known as “the commissioner”.
In later years, I would be invited to breakfasts hosted by community elders where I would listen to people like Yvonne Odom, who integrated Atlantic High School, neighborhood leader Ernestine Holliday and Alfred “Zack” Straghn, a civil rights, civic and business leader. And there were more special people that I would come to know and cherish.
Every relationship was a learning experience. Every interaction helped me to understand Delray Beach.
I mention these experiences because I think it’s important for aspiring leaders to spend time learning from people who have given back to the community.
There’s just no substitute for listening to the stories and experiences of those who came before us.
It also important to spend time with people who bring a different perspective as a result of their unique experiences.
I’m not sure this is happening as much anymore.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I still talk to a wide range of people in our community and one of their complaints is that they don’t feel as connected to leadership as they once did.
That’s a mistake but also an opportunity because the answers to many complicated issues can be found by reaching out to the community.
Back in 2001,  when we announced our intent to make improved race relations
a central piece of our goals and aspirations as a city government we got mostly positive feedback.
Many people appreciated the effort. Because we had relationships the effort was viewed by most—as sincere and needed. Others thought we were rocking the boat.
“Why bring up these sensitive issues” they would ask?
Because we need too. If we aspire to being a close knit community we need to be able to talk about everything—especially the uncomfortable subjects.
And we did. For awhile at least, we moved the needle. Not enough but we moved it. But times change. Commissioners and mayors come and go and so did our race relations effort.

Today, the protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd has got many of us thinking anew about all of these issues.
Racism. Social justice. Policing. Inequality. And for me anti-semitism which is also on the rise.
I’ll end this piece with a short story.
It was 2000 and I was campaigning for a seat on the City Commission, my first bid for public office.
I held a candidate ‘meet and greet’ at the Marriott on A1A.
It was a nice event, your typical have a drink and a bite while you mingle.
I remember saying hello to a pleasant looking elderly woman I had never seen before.
We talked for a few seconds while she ate chicken wings and drank wine.
When I said that I hoped I could count on her vote, she smiled and said.
“Oh, I won’t be voting for you,” she said. “We already have one of you on the commission.”
She smiled and walked away.
It took me a minute, but then I got it. I was Jewish and so was Commissioner Bill Schwartz who was serving at the time.
And so it goes…I suppose.
As a realist, if I let myself go there I can get pretty down on our flawed human condition. There’s so much hatred in our world.
But as an idealistic optimist, I remain hopeful that the pain we are experiencing will lead us to a better outcome for all…someday.
A world of love, compassion and understanding.
That world can start right here at home. But it won’t happen magically. We need to want it and we need to work for it.
It begins with getting to know and love thy neighbors. All of them.

Things We Loved in February

At 6’11” Reilly Opelka is the tallest player on tour. He’s also the new Delray Beach Open champ.

Things We Loved In February

We know the month is not quite over, but close enough.

Attending the Delray Beach Open.
Nothing like watching world class tennis under the stars on a beautiful February night.
Kudos to Match Point for producing a great event.
The addition of hometown fave Coco Gauff was a master stroke. Coco played an exhibition under the lights against the NCAA champion. Great stuff.
Congratulations to the Bryan Brothers on their record sixth Delray Beach title. The brothers—arguably the best doubles duo ever—come to Delray every year and have been great supporters of the event and the city. They will be retiring so it was great to see them go out with a win.

Also congratulations to Reilly Opelka who battled weather and determined opponents to claim the singles title. He may be someone to watch. He is hard to miss at 6’11” with a serve in the 140 mph range. He has a big future and the Delray event is becoming known as the place that launches stars: i.e. Frances Tiafoe, Kei Nishikori.

Seeing Doris Kearns Goodwin at FAU. She packed them in like a rock star and we could have listened to her for hours and hours. Just a wonderful storyteller.

Having the great and vastly underrated Steve Forbert play The Arts Garage.
A great performer and wonderful songwriter, Forbert is a joy to watch and listen too. Although we were forced to give our seats away, we were told he was great and drew a big crowd. I’ve seen him several times and won’t miss him again if he comes back this way.

Art on the Square—in a word: terrific.

The new Whole Foods on Linton looks great. A most welcome addition.

Another whopper of a real estate deal: Menin Development’s $7.3 million acquisition of Johnnie Brown’s.
That’s not a typo.

February weather. We are reminded why we live here. Crisp mornings, gorgeous days and cool nights. And don’t forget the Florida sunsets.

Black History Month is a good time to learn about some of our local African American icons.
Visit the S.D. Spady Museum for a great primer and see if you can find C. Spencer Pompey’s book “Many Rivers to Cross.”

We wish Pedro Andrade well with his new restaurant Valentina’s Pizza and Pasta on Congress Avenue in Lake Worth Beach.
Pedro did an amazing job serving the community for years at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza never turning down a good cause. We plan to visit his new place ASAP.

We had some monumental birthdays in February.
Zack Straghn, a long time civil rights leader, celebrated his 92nd birthday and Bob Levinson, an author, business leader and philanthropist turned 95.
Lots of wisdom and accomplishments between those two gentlemen.
We wish them many more years of making a difference.

We tried Cena on 7th Avenue and it was wonderful.
A great place to spend Valentine’s Day.
I had the pollo parmigiano and it was spectacular. It’s also huge– so we made two meals out of it.
Don’t miss the buttered noodles and the tartufo.

Heartfelt condolences to the Dubin and Evert families on the loss of Jeanne Evert Dubin.
Jeanne was a really nice person and was a terrific tennis player herself during a brief pro career rising to number 28 in the world and top ten in the United States.
She was an owner of Dubin & Associates which manages the Delray Golf Club and Delray Tennis Center.
On a personal note, Jeanne was just a super nice person. She loved tennis, preferring to be on the court teaching or leading tennis leagues. She had a quiet influence.
She will be deeply missed.

We also offer sincere condolences to the pioneering Love family on the loss of  Marsha and Barbara Love.

Until next month…..

Decision Time

Well…we did it again.

We managed to go through an election season without a substantive debate on the issues or a respectful discussion of ideas.

We did however manage to lie, label, disrespect, disparage and sling vitriol at each other with great fervor. And we wonder why people won’t run for public office…

Still, there are some emerging trends we should pay attention too if our goal is to be a stronger community.  One in particular that I think we ought to pay closer attention to are the attacks on a candidate’s supporters and their motives.

This year it has been open season on those who endorse or contribute financially to campaigns. But what if your goal is not to corrupt, but to support someone you believe in? What if your motive is good government? Are we that cynical that we preclude those motives as a possibility. As for economic interests, are we that myopic to label donors selfish just because they may wish to invest in our community and they support candidates that they believe will be reasonable or at least follow the local rules?

That said, I want to share with you a list of some (NOT ALL) of my civic heroes. Many of whom were subject to cynical remarks on social media this  cycle by people– who for the most part–  we’ve never seen serve our community. If they weren’t attacked,  many were dismissed as being unimportant as if endorsements and support don’t matter. I disagree. Here’s why:

Frances Bourque-words can’t describe Frances’ impact on Delray Beach. The founder of Old School Square, lifetime achievement award winner, historic preservation icon. Her vision gave us a place to gather and with it a sense of community.

Tom Lynch—three term mayor, School Board Chair, founding chairman of the CRA, lifetime achievement award winner, accomplished businessman and visionary. We recovered our civic pride as a result of his leadership.  Delray won its first All America City Award and was named the “Best Run Town in Florida” on his watch.

Doak Campbell-former mayor and commissioner. The Atlantic Avenue Task Force, Visions 2000, the creation of the CRA and the establishment of the first historic districts happened during Doak’s era.

Jay Alperin-former mayor and commissioner. 10 plus years service on the city commission. Past chair of Old School Square and the Chamber.

David Schmidt—former mayor and commissioner, president of Sister Cities, long time contributor to the Morikami Museum and someone who I sat next to on the commission for three years. David was a terrific mayor with a model temperament.

Yvonne Odom—civic icon who was the first African American to attend Atlantic High. Mentor to hundreds of young people for decades.

Rita Ellis—my successor as mayor. Past Chamber Chair, past chair of the Downtown Development Authority, longtime Beach Property Owners Association leader and successful business owner.

Bill Branning-two time chair of Old School Square, one of the best CRA commissioners ever, Vice chair of the Chamber, successful businessman and dedicated volunteer. Bill is devoted to all things Delray.

Cathy Balestriere– Past chair of the chamber, CRA commissioner, driving force behind Crane’s Beach House and growing Delray as a “destination.” Active in scores of Delray non-profits.

Scott Porten—a dreaded developer, who took a drive through car wash and gave us Citywalk with places like Brule and took a troubled area of town and gave us The Estuary. Scott is a devoted volunteer serving on City boards, chairing Old School Square and the Chamber and helping to lead the Beach Property Owners for years. He loves this city and gives back constantly. You WANT developers with Scott’s level of concern and passion for the city. Because they care about what they build.

Bill Morris—another developer who chairs Old School Square, supports FAU, the Boys and Girls Club and loves this city with all his heart.

Joe Gillie—longtime president of Old School Square who helped us win all three All America City Awards. Joe is Delray. Period.

Fran Marincola—longtime proprietor of the landmark Caffe Luna Rosa, 19 years on the Parking Management Advisory Board, past chair of the DDA, past chair of the Sandoway House Nature Center and longtime BPOA leader, Fran has a heart of gold. He’s devoted to Delray.

Jestena Boughton—historic preservationist and owner of the historic Colony Hotel, Jestena is a delight who has done so much for our town.

Susan Ruby—former City Attorney, leader in Del Ida and a personal touchstone of mine.

Ann Gannon– Palm Beach County’s Tax Collector, former state legislator, devoted to Delray and good government.

Chuck Halberg– I don’t know anyone who loves Delray more or who gives more than Chuck.

Dave Henninger–gave so much to this community especially the Achievement Center, Chamber, Lake Ida neighborhood etc.

David Randolph—long time city commissioner and mentor to so many.

Zack Staghn–decades of service to the community, mentor to countless leaders and devoted civil rights champion.

The list of people and organizations involved in this year’s campaign goes on and on. Amazing young leaders: Connor Lynch, Craig Spodak, Emanuel Dupree Jackson Jr., Lee Cohen, Sgt. Gary Ferreri, Rob Long, Kate Volman, Jason Bregman, Joe Collard, Rob Posillico, Amanda Perna, Matt Shipley, Steve Mackey and more.  Neighborhood leaders from WARC, the Northwest/Southwest Alliance, Del Ida, Seacrest, etc. etc.  Unions representing Fire, Police, general employees–the people who protect and serve us.  Organizations ranging from the realtors association to the Human Rights Council and more. Stellar long time contributors such as Fred Fetzer, Jon Levinson, Gary Eliopoulos, Nancy Dockerty, Bob Currie, Bill Nix, Zack Straghn, Cathy Weil, Shirl Fields, Mark Sauer, Suzanne Spencer, Joycelyn Patrick, Rick Caster, Christina Morrison, Bruce Bastian, Ingrid Kennemer and more.
Many of these people and organizations have been labeled: special interests, good old boys, the Establishment and worse.
But they are the people and the groups that are Delray. They represent the past, the present and the  future of our city.
They are the volunteers devoted to this community. The ones who give their time, their talents and their treasure to this town.
They back Jim Chard for Mayor. Most of the above also back Ryan Boylston for commissioner. (Fire backed his opponent, Police stayed out).
Can they all be wrong?
I don’t think so.
They know Delray. They care about Delray.
They’re not special interests. They are the backbone of this City.
And like me they want change. Unity not division. Progress not indecision and infighting. Leadership not bullying.
Tomorrow we have a chance to help Delray.
It’s Election Day.
Please vote.