By Dale M. King
BOCA RATON — Three years ago, Anthony Majhess won Seat D on the Boca Raton City Council with an upset victory over Councilman M.J. “Mike” Arts, retired 20-year president of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.
He won re-election Tuesday, defeating Frank Chapman, who far outspent Majhess and was endorsed by Mayor Susan Whelchel and the other three members of the council.
Majhess took just over 56 percent of the vote while Chapman collected 43.7 percent.
Victory was sweet for Majhess, surrounded by hundreds of supporters at the Ellenville Garden Center where he held a post-election party.
As he prepares to go back to the dais, Majhess told the Boca Raton Tribune, “I’ll just do the same things I’ve always done. Our jobs are to represent the city – to read things over and make informed decisions.”
Despite his colleagues’ backing of Chapman, Majhess said he will “take things on a case by case basis and I hope they do the same thing. This is a new day.”
He said he got a congratulatory text from Councilman Mike Mullaugh, but as of Wednesday, had heard nothing from other council members.
Chapman chose to hold his post-election gathering at his home in Royal Palm Yacht and County Club, where a smaller crowd gathered. Among those attending were Mayor Whelchel, Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie and Councilwoman Constance Scott.
After the tallies were in, Chapman reflected on the campaign. “I’m really happy I did it. It was the right thing to do.”
He said the council will soon have to begin the process of preparing a new budget “and I hope they make good decisions.”
“You don’t look back, you look ahead – and I will continue to be involved,” he said. “
He said he felt “the issues” contributed to his loss, and added that the endorsement of the mayor and council did help his effort.
Through his campaign, he said he “met 100s of new people that I might never have met. There are very nice people in Boca Raton. He heard some very personal stories and made very cool friends.”
The Seat D race – the sole contest on Tuesday’s Boca Raton election ballot – took some negative turns as the candidates tried to blow each other away with references to past indiscretions.
Chapman accused Majhess of allegedly being fired from the Boca Raton Fire Rescue Service for taking drugs – a charge he denied.
Majhess’ supporters also went on the offense, creating an anti-Chapman website that accused the candidate a lawyer, of overcharging his clients, among other things.
In a Boca Raton Tribune pre-election story, Majhess said that “Mr. Chapman has run a campaign of insults, name calling and attacks that disregard the truth, deny the voters the opportunity for a meaningful debate of the issues and contribute to an overall disdain for the political process.”
Chapman claimed Majhess “has hidden behind anonymous Tallahassee and West Palm Beach political groups that have relentlessly and unfairly attacked me. He has mischaracterized my record and experience in a way that is negative.”
Majhess also noted that the council’s decision to move the date for filing nomination papers for city office a month earlier was a mistake. “Instead of improving campaigning, it ended up giving too much time,” and that, he said, allowed the race to “turn ugly.”
“I think I was the guinea pig for that,” he said.