'I have no agenda': Barnett sworn in on county commission as GOP gains majority 4-3
Michael Barnett, a personal injury lawyer from Boca Raton, said he recognized that he was taking on 'an awesome responsibility.' He pledged to represent all of the residents of Palm Beach County.
Palm Beach County's commission has a new face and a new political party majority.
Michael Barnett, the chairman of Palm Beach County Republican Party, was sworn into office Tuesday to represent District 3 on the county commission, replacing Democrat Dave Kerner, who was recently appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The addition of Barnett to the county commission changes the dynamic of the board, which already saw changes after the November midterm election.
In formerly traditionally blue Palm Beach County, two Republicans, Marci Woodward and Sara Baxter, won seats on the commission in November. Those victories changed the commission from a 6-1 Democratic majority to a 4-3 one.
With Barnett, the commission will be majority Republican: Maria Marino, who represents northern Palm Beach County, is the other Republican on the seven-member board. The three Democrats are Gregg Weiss, Maria Sachs and Mack Bernard.
Barnett, a personal injury lawyer with the Shiner Law Group, said he recognized that he was taking on “an awesome responsibility.” He pledged to represent all of the residents of Palm Beach County.
“I have lived here for the past 35 years,” said Barnett. “My goal is to leave this commission a better place than I found it.”
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Barnett credited with helping to elect two Republicans in what had been a heavily Democratic Palm Beach County
Barnett thanked DeSantis for choosing him to fill the Kerner vacancy. Barnett, who was credited with helping to elect the two Republicans in what had been a heavily Democratic county, has served as the Republican Party’s chair since 2014.
“I have no agenda other than to do the very best I can for all the people,” he said, adding that he will work to promote policies that eliminate barriers to economic development. He also said he wants to make it easier for businesses to expand and small businesses to operate.
Barnett currently resides in Boca Raton, which is outside District 3. Kerner’s four-year term will expire in November 2024. At that time, Barnett could seek election to the District 3 seat for a full four-year term, but he would have to move into the district. Barnett told The Post he is leaning toward running for the seat in 2024.
For Barnett, the appointment is the first time he has held public office, but he has served as the GOP party chair since 2014. With the backing of former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Barnett recently coasted to re-election in December as leader of the county's Republican Party.
Barnett is a 1995 graduate of Boca Raton High School and a 2004 graduate of the University of South Florida, where he earned a bachelor of arts in political science. In 2007, he graduated from the University of Miami School of Law.
Mike Diamond is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. He covers Palm Beach County government and transportation. You can reach him at email@example.com. Help support local journalism. Subscribe today.