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Two Candidates Join County Commission Race  (Town Crier: By at October 11, 2013 | 12:05 am)

Two more candidates are in, and one previously announced candidate is out, in the ever-shifting race to replace term-limited County Commissioner Jess Santamaria.

Melissa McKinlay, who works in the Palm Beach County Legislative Affairs Department, will run in the Democratic primary, while Andrew Schaller, who ran unsuccessfully for the post in 2010, is running as a Republican.

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Schaller became involved in politics through a dispute with the county to get Fargo Avenue, where he owns property, paved. He ran unsuccessfully against Santamaria in 2010. He ran without a party affiliation, taking 6 percent of the vote. Republican John Carroll took 36 percent of the vote, while Santamaria won with 58 percent.

This time, Schaller is running as a Republican.

“I know I can help this county, I know I can represent it well, and I never want anyone in this county to be treated by the county the way that I have been,” he said, explaining that although it began with trying to get Fargo Avenue improved, he learned a lot trying to get the issue resolved through many levels of county government.

“Fargo is the subject matter, but from Fargo I’ve gone through everything from the inspector general, Florida ethics, Palm Beach County ethics, the internal auditor, planning and zoning,” he said. “I’ve been through a lawsuit focused on Fargo that was brought against me that I won three times… It’s a journey that has led me through many different facets of not only the county, but all areas of the district.”

Schaller, who has long been at odds with Santamaria, said he believes the district has not had proper representation.

“By that, I mean the Glades office has never been maintained on a regular basis,” he said. “Michael Jackson did it for three years as a $60,000 part-time employee. Michael decided to run against Jess in 2010. Since then that office has not been maintained. People in the Glades aren’t well-represented.”

Schaller believes that he will be able to more effectively represent the needs of the western communities.

“We need somebody who is the most effective communicator to be able to not only understand other people’s wants, needs and desires to bring to the rest of the county, we also need somebody to communicate your wants needs and desires,” he said.

Schaller said he is also concerned about creating jobs and injecting money back into the economy. “I am a businessman,” he said, noting that he has owned Palm Beach Financial Exchange for almost 20 years.

The business handles billing for many local businesses, including health clubs, storage services and homeowners’ associations.

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