March 14th will be a critical day in the history of Boca Raton.  Voters will be presented with a clear choice as they vote to fill a majority of the seats on the five-member City Council.  For too long, Boca’s City Council has served the interests of big developers and the Chamber of Commerce.  As a result, we have experienced an unprecedented and unplanned for building boom:  block after block of concrete behemoths in our square mile downtown, with similar plans pending for midtown Boca.  We have seen the unintended consequences:  traffic jams, parking problems, and 14-story buildings where the sun and sky used to be.

As Mayor and long-time City Council Member, Susan Haynie must bear some responsibility for Boca’s building binge.  She calls now for responsible development and for traffic solutions, and has made some positive moves in that direction.  But she has been on the City Council for the past decade and has voted for many of the most unpopular development projects in our city.  Al Zucaro, on the other hand, has been arguing strenuously for the past five years for orderly, planned development in Boca.  He has railed against insider deals that benefitted big developers at the expense of our quality of life.  His website, BocaWatch, has attracted thousands of loyal readers in its quest for a more resident-friendly government in Boca.  He strongly supported a “yes” vote on the Boca Question on last November’s ballot; the Mayor was opposed.  The “yes” vote, which was really a referendum on overdevelopment in Boca, carried by 67%.  Al Zucaro deserves a chance to practice what he preaches as Mayor of Boca Raton.

Andrea O’Rourke is running for Council Seat B against Emily Gentile and Andy Thomson.  A 20-year resident of West Boca and a 17-year resident of East Boca, she has a distinguished record of service to the community, having served as the Chairperson of the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner’s Associations and as Editor of BocaWatch.  Unlike her opponents, she is not beholden to either development interests or to the Chamber.  Mr. Thompson moved to Boca only six months ago and his campaign appears to be financed by developers and their attorneys.  Ms. Gentile is also an unknown quantity, but the fact that pro-development retiring Council Member Mullaugh has endorsed her is a worrying sign.  By contrast, Andrea O’Rourke has been active in Boca civic affairs for well over 15 years.  During her tenure as Editor of BocaWatch she was a voice of moderation on development issues.  She can be expected to take a fresh and balanced approach to future development in Boca and to pay immediate attention to our city’s parking and traffic problems.  She deserves your vote.

Scott Singer is running for reelection for City Council Seat A.  He has been a deliberative and thoughtful Councilman who has been more than willing to listen to the concerns of residents.  Of late, he seems to have taken those concerns to heart—particularly where development is concerned.  But Mr. Singer has voted for some of Boca’s most egregious development projects during his brief tenure on the Council, and for that reason the Board of BocaBeautiful is unable to endorse his candidacy.  However, nor can we wholeheartedly endorse his opponent, Patty Dervishi, due to her lack of government experience.  What she lacks in governing experience, she makes up for in her passionate opposition to rampant development.  We suggest you make your choice for Seat A based on the credibility of what each candidate says between now and March 14th.  Do their words match your concerns, and do you believe them?

So there you have it.  If you don’t like what has happened to Boca and would like to see a change of direction at City Hall, March 14th is your chance to make it happen.  Vote to elect Zucaro, O’Rourke and either Singer or Dervishi to ensure a more beautiful future for Boca Raton.  With your vote, we can secure a resident-friendly rather than a developer-friendly City Council.