Saturday, May 9, 2020

Meet Ray Caranci -- Florida's newest LGBTQ elected official

March 27, 2020

While the results in almost all Florida's March 17 municipal elections were determined within hours after the polls closed, it was very different in the race for Haverhill Town Council (Seat 2). 

When all the votes were counted, there were 153 votes for Ray Caranci, an openly-LGBTQ candidate endorsed by the 
(PBCHRCVA), and 152 votes for incumbent Daniel Sohn. 

Since the margin was less than one-percent of the total votes cast, a mandatory recount was conducted on March 20 -- and there was no change in the count. However, one overseas ballot had not yet been returned, and the race could not be called. 

In accordance with the Florida Election Code, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections was required to wait until office hours ended today -- ten days after Election Day -- for the ballot to be returned, properly postmarked, and executed. 

Had the ballot arrived timely and included a vote for the incumbent, the election would have resulted in a tie and a run-off election would be required to be held before the end of March. That would have been a logistical nightmare for the Supervisor of Elections, the Town of Haverhill, the two candidates, and the Town's voters. 

Haverhill Town Council Member-elect Ray Caranci
with Compass Executive Director and CEO Julie Seaver

Fortunately, when the Supervisor's office confirmed that all the mail had arrived today, the solitary overseas ballot had not been returned. This resulted in Ray Caranci being elected. 

When he is sworn in as a Haverhill Town Council Member, on April 9, Ray will become Palm Beach County's -- and Florida's -- newest openly-LGBTQ elected official.   

Congratulations Ray!

Certified as an arborist and landscape inspector, Ray has worked for the City of West Palm Beach's Development Services Department as a landscape planner for more than five years. His job is to ensure developers' projects are as green and sustainable as possible. Prior to accepting the position in West Palm Beach, Ray spent more than eight years working in city planning as a forestry and development compliance technician for the City of Palm Beach Gardens.

Ray and his husband Scott have lived in Haverhill for the past fifteen years and have been together since 1989. Not wanting to wait until marriage equality came to Florida, Ray and Scott were married in Ashville, North Carolina in 2014 after the federal court there recognized marriage equality as a fundamental right.  

Ray, third from the left, at the Palm Beach County Courthouse.

On June 26, 2015, the U. S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, bringing marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples nationwide. Ray celebrated the decision at a rally at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, and landed on the front page of the South Florida Sun- Sentinel.

Over the years, LGBTQ people in Palm Beach County have been elected to office in Boynton Beach, Cloud Lake, Haverhill, Lake Park, Lake Worth Beach, Lantana, Manalapan, Pahokee, Palm Beach Shores, Riviera Beach, and West Palm Beach. 

"Palm Beach County is unique in Florida, as close to one-third of our municipalities have elected LGBTQ mayors, commissioners, and council members since PBCHRCVA first started endorsing candidates in 1988," said retired judge Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC).

PBCHRC is Florida's oldest, independent, non-partisan, political organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

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