Frank Chapman challenges Anthony Mahjess in Boca Raton

Two candidates in March’s Boca Raton city election are already strapping on the gloves.

City Councilman Anthony Majhess has found himself facing a challenger, political newcomer Frank Chapman, who set his sights on the incumbent early, filing his paperwork long before the Jan. 11 deadline.

Majhess, a Palm Beach County firefighter, won his first three-year term in 2009, ousting M.J. “Mike” Arts in an upset. By city charter, Majhess can serve a second three-year stint before term limits kick in.

The incumbent said he met his foe about a year ago.

“He told me he was going to run for office, and then he told me he liked me,” Majhess said. “He promised me five times that he would not run against me.”

But Chapman said it was Majhess who “begged me not to run against him.”

“In the beginning, I thought we would get along,” Chapman said. “As things evolved, too many differences developed.”

The most egregious, he said, was Majhess’ stand on property taxes.

“When he ran for office, he promised not to raise taxes,” said Chapman, a self-described “fiscal conservative” who vows to do a “line-by-line” assessment of the city budget. He took issue with Majhess’ subsequent vote for a slight tax increase for the 2011-12 fiscal year. “You don’t tell people you won’t raise taxes, and then raise taxes.”

Majhess said he asked Chapman, “What am I doing wrong?” and didn’t get a specific answer. Chapman said he was receiving calls from Majhess and didn’t want to talk to him, adding that he felt it was unethical for the opposing candidate to be calling him.

Majhess, however, said the lack of specificity led him to question the strength of Chapman’s platform. The challenger said he didn’t want to get into a discussion of the issues with his campaign rival.

“We will be more than happy to specify the issues in the upcoming campaign,” Chapman said.

When the last conversation between the two ended, Majhess said he “wished [Chapman] good luck.”

In the 2009 race, the councilman ran as a “people’s candidate” and continued to espouse a pro-neighborhood stance when he won Seat D. He said he has sought transparency in government and will continue to work the people’s agenda in his second term.

Majhess held his re-election kick-off Dec. 29 with an event that drew between 200 and 300 people. He said he took in $7,200 that night – not bad, he said, for an event pulled together in just eight days and in the midst of the holiday season.

During the kick-off, Majhess said, he returned $2,500 of a $3,000 donation from a contributor who was tapping money from his corporation to support the candidate. That is legal, he said, but he felt uncomfortable taking that much from someone with corporate ties.

Adam Hasner itching for a debate

Chapman isn’t the only challenger making noise in an upcoming contest. Former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner is aching to debate the other Republicans in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bill Nelson.

“Last week, I challenged Congressman Connie Mack, Senator George LeMieux and the other Republicans in this Senate race to a series of 10 debates hosted by grassroots Republicans across Florida,” Hasner told his supporters via email.

“Senator LeMieux endorsed the idea almost immediately. Congressman Mack, on the other hand, gave a typical Washington response, calling the idea of serious debates on the issues you care about ‘an obvious political gimmick…not worthy of a response.”

“That’s how Washington politicians think,” Hasner said. “Congressman Mack doesn’t want debates because he thinks he is entitled to the nomination. He’s spent his career in Washington, not Florida, and he thinks Washington knows best.”

So Hasner, who is dead last in the polls, hopes to force Mack’s hand with a petition. He told his supporters: “The nomination needs to be earned, not anointed or inherited. Tell Congressman Mack it’s time to debate.”

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