Four candidates running for mayor

, 1/31/2012 -- Staci Caplin of Boynton Beach leaves her polling place at Boynton Beach Fire Station number 3 after voting in the Republican primary Tuesday. Mark Randall, South Florida Sun Sentinel

It's a race between two Boynton Beach political players, a veteran candidate and a political newcomer.

Four candidates are vying for the Boynton Beach mayor's job, and while their platforms differ, changing Boynton's reputation is paramount to each candidate if they're elected on March 12.

Two-time former mayor and interim District I Commissioner Jerry Taylor, District III Commissioner Steven Holzman, retired resident Cliff Montross and nurse Sophonie Lacombe are all competing for the mayoral seat.

Under Taylor's 11-year run as mayor, the city saw the construction of the Promenades condominiums, the opening of Walmart and the removal of three strip clubs on Federal Highway.

This time around, Taylor's running with a goal of increasing downtown development, creating jobs and building a new police headquarters and City Hall.

"Development of downtown is painfully slow, we can't build stores without people, and people won't put money in the city if they don't know where we are," he said. "We have to do more than just treading water."

Taylor wants to bring more mom and pop stores, apartments and condos downtown.

In 2007, when Taylor was mayor, the commission unanimously approved a height variance so a developer could build a 5-story hotel, 500 feet away from the one-story Leisureville community.

Montross, a Leisureville resident, and Holzman, have said that passing the height variance wasn't in the city's best interests.

"What's the sense of people spending time and effort to make a recommendation and they do what they want anyways. All of these things make you wonder what's going on in Boynton politics," Montross said.

Taylor said if he could take one thing back as mayor, it would be passing that variance.

Holzman said that the move was typical of Taylor, who "doesn't understand the needs of the residents in this city an hasn't met a developer he said 'No' to."

While development is an important part of Holzman's platform, it's not the focus. Instead he wants to create a balance between development and the people's needs to keep taxes low.

His plan for downtown is to make it pedestrian-friendly, make the buildings environmentally friendly, open up the city library on Fridays, increase the hours of operation at the Senior Center and turn the Community Redevelopment Agency over to an independent board.

"Eleven years ago, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach were in the same boat and look at us now, we've been stagnant except for the past three years," he said. "I want to move the city forward. Our city can only get better, it can't get worse."

Holzman's opponents have criticized him for his people skills.

"He talks down and embarrasses people," Taylor said. "He hasn't talked to the city manager for a year and half and has problems with [CRA Director] Vivian Brooks. To me it seems like he has a problem with women in power."

It's been 18 months since Holzman has spoke to the city manager, Lori LaVerriere, after he suspected that she was involved in the downfall of former mayor Jose Rodriguez. To this day, he only communicates with her via email.

This kind of politics are what Montross, a retired undersheriff from Warhorn, N.J., is tired of.

"Boynton Beach is dysfunctional, everything they do seems to wind up wrong," he said. "I read all the corruption accusations, and I felt I had to get in the race."