Boynton Beach Witch Hunt Interfering in Neighboring Delray Election

One of the three municipal races currently underway in Delray Beach, a three-way nonpartisan commission race, has been a total snooze fest until now. A race that no one cared about has become loaded with scandal because of a just-released thirty-two-page report about candidate Tennille DeCoste, issued by the city of Boynton Beach, that resulted in her termination.

DeCoste was a human resource director for the city. The report accuses her of using her city expense account for events having nothing to do with the city, campaigning at different events on city time, nepotism, and getting campaign contributions from fellow employees. Given the timing of the bombshell report, weeks before the election in Delray Beach, and the fact that a further investigation is currently underway from the Office of the Investigator General, some are asking, is DeCoste a true villain or is this just a witch hunt, orchestrated by city enemies or possibly one of her opponents, meant to destroy a this woman’s political and professional career?

Upon first look, the report is damming, but upon closer reading, it looks more like DeCoste has an enemy or two who want a way to get rid of her and ensure she doesn’t get elected in the neighboring city, Delray Beach. After all, legal action seems to be how people are shutting down political enemies these days, and it’s hard to see this any differently with accusations such as “receiving donations from city employees,” an accusation that isn’t illegal, controversial, or unethical. In the famous words of President Joe Biden, “Come on, man.”

The background is that Dem HR Executive Tennille DeCoste is in a nonpartisan race against two opponents, Dem former Delray Beach Commissioner Jim Chard and Dem businessman Tom Market, a candidate no one seems to know anything about other than he seems obsessed with supporting medical marijuana legislation, based on his political contribution history. The actual race has been between DeCoste and Chard. No one seems to have strong feelings about this race, but these wild accusations have left many saying, “I don’t know what to think. I’ll reserve judgment until the State’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report comes out.” 

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Delray Beach Commission Candidate Tennille DeCoste

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From DeCoste’s termination report:

Ms. DeCoste is running for City Commission in a neighboring city, Delray Beach. The fact that she is running for office is not the subject of this investigation, as her direct supervisor, City Manager Dan Dugger, approved Ms. DeCoste engaging in this outside activity. Instead, this investigation involves whether Ms. DeCoste misused City resources and her position at the City for political and personal gain. 

Five employees and one outside person complained about DeCoste. DeCoste claims that the external complaint came from none other than her opponent, Jim Chard, but according to the investigative report from Boynton Beach, the complaint was anonymous. Florida Jolt spoke with Chard. He says he had nothing to do with it. Chard’s response was swift and direct.

Absolutely totally a lie. Another one of her many, many lies. Tennille is trying to make this my problem, but I had nothing to do with it. ~Candidate Jim Chard

Delray Beach Commission Candidate Jim Chard

The report has some serious accusations, but it’s hard not to see issues with it when one of the accusations is that DeCoste engaged in outside political activity during work hours. One example is that she asked Boynton Beach employees and her friends if they would like to attend her campaign kickoff, which was held after work hours. The idea that someone isn’t supposed to mention anything outside their work life during work hours is somewhat unrealistic. I would challenge them to find one employee who hasn’t discussed their outside lives with co-workers. Based on the standards DeCoste was supposed to live up to, any employee who asks a co-worker, “How are you doing,” is in danger of losing their job. The two leading candidates in this race, DeCoste and Chard, are in a dead heat, making the timing of this report even more critical. 

Both candidates have an equal amount of impressive support. Boynton Beach Mayor Ty Penserga, Commissioners Angela Cruz and Woodrow Hay, and the Palm Beach Post have endorsed DeCoste. Her other vital endorsements include the Fraternal Order of Police, the CTA, The Delray Beach SET Neighborhood Alliance, The Hispanic Vote, State Senator Bobby Powell, State Representatives Joe Casello and Tae Edmonds, County Commissioner Mack Bernard, and current Riviera Beach Chief of Police Michael Coleman, a beloved Delray Beach icon who insiders know has experienced his own dreadful, uncalled for witch hunt—quite the impressive list for DeCoste, who has never been in office before.

Candidate Jim Chard, a former Delray Beach Commissioner, long known for his many years of community involvement, has racked up an equally impressive list of endorsements from the board of Realtors, PBC HRC, Tax Collector Anne Gannon, the PBC PBA, County Commissioner Maria Sachs, as well as four former Delray Beach mayors. 

Editor’s Note: Tracy Caruso ran for mayor in Delray Beach and was supported by Tennille DeCoste and Jim Chard. She is on the board of The Hispanic Vote. This article is not an endorsement by Florida Jolt for either candidate. 

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The current investigative report was an internal one in Boynton Beach, conducted by an outside consultant who may or may not be biased. We know that the result of this investigation happened during the worst possible time for DeCoste’s campaign. Whether or not the allegations are true, there is no doubt that this report could drastically influence an election in the neighboring city of Delray Beach, making this something that voters may want to take with a grain of salt instead of a deciding factor when voting. The less impartial report by the State Inspector General’s office may or may not come out before election day. Meanwhile, residents are sending in vote-by-mail ballots while DeCoste is trying to clear her name and ensure her reputation stays clean, which could make some wonder if this is fair to DeCoste and Delray Beach voters.

Other stories you may want to read:

New Poll: Carney & Casale Establish Early Lead in Delray Beach

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