Single District Vs. at large

Nancy Graham was elected as WPB first strong Mayor and served from 1991-1999.  In 1997 the city moved away from Single District voting to at large. Here’s the story.

                                                  BALLOT QUESTION


Shall the City Charter of the City of West Palm Beach, Florida, be amended to provide that the election of City Commissioners be on an at-large basis rather than by five single-member districts?


The City Commission of the City of West Palm Beach, Florida, hereby finds and declares the results of the general election held on March 11, 1997, in said City as follows:

On the referendum question proposing an amendment to the City.

Charter to provide that the election of City Commissioners be on an at large basis, attached and incorporated hereto as Exhibit “A,” the following votes were cast by the qualified electors residing and voting within said City:

1,897 Yes – For the Amendment

647 No – Against the Amendment

As important as this vote was 2,544 people bothered to vote on the issue. Shame on us.

As you are aware, and for those who aren’t, WPB has 5 districts and are represented by 5 City Commissioners.

Kelly Shoaf, District 1                        Up for re-election in March 2020

Cory Neering, District 2

Richard Ryles, District 3                   Up for re-election in March 2020

Joseph Peduzzi, District 4    

Christina Lambert, District 5           Up for re-election in March 2020


There are two paths for returning to Single District Voting.

1: A super majority of commissioners (4 of 5) can place it on the ballot, and we don’t believe that will happen although it would benefit them because they would campaign in their district only.

2: The more difficult route is what we will attempt.

What is needed to make this happen?

An attorney to draw up the paperwork and guide us on our journey, who may take this on Pro Bono, and be a hero to residents.

Another 6 volunteers needed to speak to voters and gather signatures.

$$ needed for copies, advertisement and possible Attorney costs.

We may be back and ask for contributions to make this a reality.

         Palm Beach County, Supervisor of Elections

A recent trip to the PBC Supervisor of Elections we were advised we would have to gather 5% of 69,000 registered voters in WPB for a total of 3,450 signatures. She suggested we gather a minimum of 4,000 signatures. (People will tell you they are registered voters and are not.)

Signatures are then sent to the WPB City Clerk, along with a check. To verify signatures cost $.25 ea; and when they verify 3,450 signatures the count stops and hopefully placed on the ballot.

                              Single District Vs. at large.

“In a single member district the voters elect one of the candidates for a seat in that district. While “at large” is when the commissioner is elected from the city as a whole rather than by a district. All of the seats are never up for election at the same time.”

                     Why return to Single District voting?

It holds Commissioners responsible for their district and they can be re-elected or defeated in the next election. He/She will pay attention to their districts needs, and not worry about developers needs/wants.”

Heavy voter turnout can be found in the Western Communities, (District 4) and they vote to protect their interest and way of life. Example: the expansion of State Rd.7 which they oppose and officials have spent millions fighting to insure it wont happen.

If false political fliers are mailed to voters and state a commissioner is in favor of the expansion, they are voted out of office. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.

Another example is the OBD (Okeechobee Business District) and Commissioners Moffett, Materio and Neering who voted against the Related project. What was the outcome?

Moffett retired from politics, Materio was defeated by Lambert and Neering wasn’t up for election so he was safe for the moment. Below is an excerpt from the PB Post on a comment made by Commissioner Neering, and the entire story can be read below.

“He was one of three commissioners who last September shot down the plan to create an Okeechobee Business District. Despite heavy pressure, including threats that development interests would run candidates against him, if he opposed the plan because he felt there wasn’t enough information on how the plan would address the issues of traffic, spot zoning and how the plan could benefit the entire city and not just one parcel, coveted by developer The Related Co.”


I don’t want District 4, the Chamber of Commence, Cornerstone Political Consultant or Related choosing my commissioner in District 1,2,3,or 5 and I don’t want developers threatening my commissioner if they don’t vote their way they will find a candidate to run against them while throwing untold thousands of dollars, from unknown sources, to insure their defeat.

One argument I heard against single district voting is all Commissioners vote on all the issues and should be campaigning in all districts. Well we have been doing that for the last 22 years and what has it done for residents? And what happens when a commissioner runs unopposed? It is a win for developers when threats and money flows to commissioners with a “My way or the highway” attitude.

We are looking for volunteers willing to speak to their friends/neighbors and gather signatures in the North and South end of the city. The Western communities are gated and if a reader lives there and is willing to help we will have needed petitions delivered.

I want commissioners to vote in the best interest of their constituents, not in the best interest of one particular district or developer. I hope you feel the same.


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