West Palm Beach mayoral election, 1991

November 5 and November 19, 1991 1995 →
 
Nominee Nancy M. Graham Michael D. Hyman
Party Nonpartisan Nonpartisan
Popular vote 4,199 3,332
Percentage 55.8% 44.2%

Mayor before election

Jeff Koons
Nonpartisan

Elected Mayor

Nancy Graham
Nonpartisan

The West Palm Beach mayoral election took place on November 5, 1991, to elect a mayor for West Palm Beach, Florida. Officially, elections for mayor of West Palm Beach are nonpartisan. Prior to this election, the city operated under a council–manager government system since 1919, with the city commissioners choosing the mayor, a mostly ceremonial office that had less power than the city manager. However, in March 1991, voters approved a referendum to allow a strong mayor and to transition the city government to a mayor-council structure. Thus, it was the first direct election for mayor of West Palm Beach since 1919.[1]

Candidates for the general election included attorney and former state representative Joel T. Daves, senior city planner Jim Exline, former city commissioner Nancy M. Graham, Josephine Stenson Grund, property management company owner and former mayor Michael D. Hyman, and former Palm Beach County commissioner Bill Medlen. With no candidate obtaining a majority of the vote, Graham and Hyman, who received 33.4% and 24.9% of the vote, respectively, advanced to a run-off election held on November 19. Graham prevailed over Hyman by a margin of 55.8%–44.2% and became the first strong and popularly elected mayor in over seven decades.

Background

In the early history of West Palm Beach, mayors were elected by a direct vote, beginning with John S. Earman in 1894. However, a movement to transition to a council–manager government gained enough momentum to allow a vote in 1919. Under the proposal, the citizens would elect members of the city council, who would in turn select the mayor. On August 29, 1919, voters approved the proposal by 201–82. The proposal also called for a primary for the election of city commissioners to be held within three weeks. The rules for the primary stated the top three vote-getters were elected to the city council.[2] Eventually, the city commission expanded to five members. In 1978, candidates for commission began being elected by district, rather than at-large.[3]

Strong mayor referendum

During the next several decades following the vote in 1919, public opinion reversed in support of a strong mayor, elected by citizens. In a straw poll conducted by The Palm Beach Post in 1990, 78.5% of respondents indicated that they wanted to directly elect the mayor. Later that year, a five-member committee began collecting signatures for a petition to force a vote. The group collected 1,638 signatures, one more than required.[4] Under their proposal, the mayor would be elected to a four-year term and be eligible for re-election once, the city manager and mayor would share administrative duties, and the mayor would receive the power to veto commission votes, which could be overridden by a 4–1 vote. Additionally, the mayor would be authorized to line-item veto the budget, initiate investigations, and supervise contracts and purchases involving more than $5,000. This proposal was listed on the ballot as Question 2. In response, the city commission submitted Question 1, which effective added a weak mayor. In this proposal, the difference versus Question 2 is that the city manager would retain administrative authority, the mayor would vote with city commissioners in the event of a tie, and the mayor could not veto votes by the city commission.[5]

On the ballot, voters were required to vote yes or no to Question 1 and Question 2. If both received a majority of yes votes, the question with more votes passed. The election was held on March 12, 1991. Both propositions received a majority of the votes. Question 1 received 2,944 yes votes versus 2,665 no votes, a margin of 52.6%–47.4%. Question 2 passed by a margin of 65.7%–34.3% and a vote total of 3,779–1,972. Therefore, Question 2 prevailed, allowing citizens of West Palm Beach to directly elect a strong mayor.[6]

Candidates

Campaign

General election results

Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida 1991[7][1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Nancy M. Graham 2,739 34.3
Nonpartisan Michael D. Hyman 2,044 24.9
Nonpartisan Joel T. Daves 1,994 24.3
Nonpartisan Bill Medlen 1,158 14.1
Nonpartisan Jim Exline 267 3.3
Nonpartisan Josephine Stenson Grund (write-in) 3 0
Total votes 8,205 100.0

Run-off results

With a turnout of approximately 28.7% of eligible voters, Nancy M. Graham won the election against Michael D. Hyman by a margin of 55.8%–44.2%, or 4,199–3,332 in total votes. Graham carried 22 out of 31 precincts. As a result of this election, Graham became the first mayor elected by direct vote since 1919, as well as the city's first strong mayor.[8]

Mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida 1991 run-off[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Nancy M. Graham 4,199 55.8
Nonpartisan Michael D. Hyman 3,332 44.2
Total votes 7,531 100.0

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Angela Bradbery (November 6, 1991). "Graham says returns no surprise; Hyman knew it would be close". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. p. 6. Retrieved March 6, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  2. ^ "City Adopts Commission Form Government by Overwhelming Majority of 201 to 82". The Palm Beach Post. August 30, 1919. p. 1. Retrieved March 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  3. ^ Eliot Kleinberg (April 1, 2012). "Eva Mack: First black mayor of W. Palm". The Palm Beach Post. p. N003. Retrieved March 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  4. ^ Angela Bradbery (March 13, 1991). "Strong mayor government takes effect in 10 days". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. p. 13. Retrieved March 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ "West Palm Mayor: Weak or Strong". The Palm Beach Post. March 10, 1991. p. 504. Retrieved March 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ Angela Bradbery (March 13, 1991). "'The people spoke': Strong mayor approved for West Palm Beach". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. p. 1. Retrieved March 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  7. ^ a b c d Angela Bradbery (November 6, 1991). "Graham, Hyman face runoff". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. p. 1. Retrieved March 6, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  8. ^ a b Angela Bradbery (November 20, 1991). "Graham wins mayor's race". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. p. 1. Retrieved March 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access