Atlantic Beach voters sweep out incumbents, elect 3 women

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The morning after Ellen Glasser beat incumbent Mitch Reeves for mayor of Atlantic Beach, the sign outside of the Beach Diner read “Karma."

Two new Atlantic Beach commissioners were also elected, also beating incumbents.

Wednesday afternoon, Beach Diner changed its sign to read, "Awkward parking, but still worth it."

Both signs are in reference to a Gate gas station that is being built next year.

The restaurant's owner said the karma reference was to the fact that the mayor and both council members defeated in Tuesday's election voted to allow the Gate to go up despite strong opposition by Beach Diner and others in the community.

Residents who had followed the controversy got the karma reference, but others were confused by the sign.

"I'm like, 'Oh, that doesn't sound like a good thing,'" Gabrielle Gale said, adding that she was "kind of wondering what it's all about."

"Karma. Fate. Destiny," Beach Diner owner Barry Adeeb said. "I felt like the balance of the scales adjusted."

Adeeb said he put the word Karma on his sign last night within 15 minutes of the election results being announced. He believes a big factor for the three who lost their re-election bid was their votes to approve construction of a Gate station on what used to be parking for the restaurant.

"May 12th, last year, the city commission -- the three commissioners that ran -- were three of the five that voted no," allowing construction of the gas station by ignoring an ordinance from 1997 when the landlord and the tenant of Beach Diner was approved and permitted for adequate parking.

Adeeb said he used to have close to 100 parking spots. He's left with about 30 -- not enough for his customers, let alone employees, who have to park across busy Atlantic Boulevard.

Mayor-elect Ellen Glasser said she understands the commission made its own decision, but it’s not the one she would have made.

"I'm not looking back. I'm not trying to turn back time or change history. I just want everybody to know that I am pro-business. I'm pro-homes. I am pro-property. But we want to manage what we do in the future," Glasser aid.

Reeves said Wednesday that he congratulated Glasser and shook her hand. He said Beach Diner, like every business owner, has a right to use its signs to draw in customers any way they choose.

Reeves also released a statement on the outcome of the election:

Yesterday the citizens of Atlantic Beach voted for change, not only in their Mayor but in the two other races on the ballot. While we are of course disappointed, Martha and I want to offer our best wishes and support to all those who prevailed in their elections yesterday and hope that you will do the same.

"We also want to thank all of you who spent time in support of my campaign. You were and are amazing and we cannot thank you enough!

"Finally, please stay involved. Our country, state and city depend on citizen activists to speak out.  Stay involved, make your voice heard, I will because the future depends on it.

"Again, thank you for all that you have done and will do in the future."

Glasser will be sworn in Nov. 13. She said her first priorities will be to restore stability within her city’s government and she hopes to bridge the gap between the east and west sides of the town. She wants to continue to let people in the Mayport area know that they are just as much a part of this city as anyone else.

Not only did all three incumbents lose, the three winners are all women replacing men. Glasser called that unusual and said she welcomes what the future brings.