Wellington voters elect Amanda Silvestri, Maria Antuña to Village Council in runoff

Amanda Silvestri Maria Atuna
Each won a 4-year term on the 5-seat Council.

Wellington voters have elected insurance executive Amanda Silvestri and Palm Beach County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Maria Antuña to the Village Council, choosing them over two others in a runoff race.

With all 24 of the village’s precincts reporting at 7:39 p.m., Silvestri had 52% of the vote to defeat former Mayor Bob Margolis for Seat 1 on the five-member Village Council. Antuña also took 52% of the vote to beat longtime Wellington resident Shelly Albright for Seat 4.

Silvestri will replace Councilman Michael Drahos. Antuña will succeed Michael Napoleone, who vacated his Council seat last month for a successful mayoral bid.

Each won a four-year term.

Located just west of West Palm Beach in Palm Beach County, Wellington has a population of more than 61,600, according to the U.S. Bureau.

The runoff was scheduled after no candidate in either race secured more than 50% of the vote to win outright in the village’s General Election on March 19.

According to the Palm Beach County Elections Department, just over 5,000 Wellington voters cast ballots Tuesday.

Amanda Silvestri’s second run at elected office proved successful. Former Mayor Bob Albright aimed for a return to Village Hall. Images via the candidates.

Seat 1

Silvestri has spent 14 of her 39 years living in Wellington and serves as a member of the Wellington Landings Middle School Advisory Council. She owns and operates an insurance agency with her husband.

In 2022, she ran unsuccessfully for the Palm Beach County School Board.

This cycle, Silvestri ran on a platform prioritizing public safety, stopping overdevelopment, reducing traffic, improving affordability, keeping taxes low, supporting local businesses and preserving parks and green spaces.

“I’m running for Wellington Village Council to fight for our values (and make) sure we move in the right direction,” she said in a statement.

She carried an endorsement from the International Association of Firefighters, Local 2928.

A consulting firm executive, Margolis, previously served on the Village Council from 2003-2008 and 2012-2016, the latter stint of which as Mayor. Over his 40 years living in Wellington, he served — and led — several local advisory boards.

He carried endorsements from State Attorney Dave Aronberg, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Palm Beach Classroom Teachers Association and a passel of former elected officials and community leaders.

He vowed, if voters sent him back to Village Hall, to boost community policing and code enforcement, protect Wellington’s equestrian preserve and support the improvement of parks, schools, senior programs and youth sports programs.

At 72 years old, Margolis said his age was an asset.

“I believe a senior voice with knowledge and experience in local government is an important perspective to have on the Council,” he said in a statement.

In the village’s General Election last month, Silvestri took 31.3% of the vote, while Margolis received 26.3%.

Silvestri raised more than $39,000 through March 28, the last date for which campaign finance information was available Tuesday. Of that, she spent nearly $24,000.

Margolis, meanwhile, raised $17,500 and spent $15,200.

(L-R) Maria Antuña and Shelly Albright shared some policy priorities. Images via the candidates.

Seat 4

Antuña, 68, was born in Cuba and has lived in Wellington for 45-plus years. In addition to her work with the Hispanic Chamber, she serves as Vice Chair of the Wellington Architectural Review Board and as a board member of the Wellington Rotary Club, Criminal Justice Commission Board of Palm Beach County and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

She vowed, if elected, to fight for lower taxes, advocate for local businesses, support “top education” in schools, prioritize public safety, support first responders and protect Wellington’s “unique quality of life.” Other priorities included reducing traffic congestion and protecting the village’s parks and equestrian preserve.

Albright, 54, works as the youth programming director for St. Peter’s United Methodist Church. She was born in Florida and has lived for more than two decades in Wellington, where she currently serves on the village’s Education Committee.

In 2022, she mounted an unsuccessful Primary challenge against Democratic state Rep. Katherine Waldron.

Her platform this cycle included prioritizing, among other things, public safety, environmental protections, lowering homeowner’s insurance costs, reducing traffic and protecting home rule.

The Hispanic Political Action Committee, Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO, Palm Beach Classroom Teachers Association, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors, and numerous local leaders backed her Village Council campaign.

Antuña proved to be a powerhouse fundraiser, amassing $89,000 and spending nearly as much through March 28. Albright raised about $30,000 and spent $24,000.

In the General Election last month, Antuña took 31.7% of the vote, while Albright took 30.7%. Just 33 votes separated them.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.

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