Restrictive Qualifications Limit Boca’s Candidate Pool….Advantage: Incumbent!!!

5
Al Zucaro Argues for Less Restrictions in Candidate Requirements

Last week we reported that appointing Scott Singer Deputy Mayor gives him a leg up in any special election for Mayor over other candidate for Mayor in March 2019….

From the perch as Deputy Mayor, he will have an impressive title to influence the casual voter of his perceived importance; he will be the ‘acting’ Mayor from November, 2018 until the special election to fill the remaining one year term created by Ms. Haynie’s resignation; and he will have undue influence with the donor class for campaign contributions, contributions that will be mandatory to those developers with projects up for consideration in front of the City Council.

In tennis terms: Advantage Incumbent!!!

If that was not enough, the City Council, now, is about to consider placing in front of the voters in August, 2018, a Boca Raton Question to change the City Charter in ways that effectively limit the possible candidate pool available from which the public to chose.

Ordinance 5453*, described below, places burdens on potential candidates with qualification criteria that seems a bit onerous and arguably impact the voter’s voice in choosing an elected representative.

Of course, there are arguments to impose stricter qualification and perhaps a portion of what is being proposed may be defensible.
However… a one year residency requirement is not!

Disqualification of potential candidates with that as a criteria would have reduced the field of candidates by 50% in the last two city council election years.

Andy Thomson, in the March 2017 City Council race against Andrea Levine O’rourke and Emily Gentile, would have been prevented from running. He had officially moved into the city a mere month before announcing his candidacy. The one year litmus test would not take into account factors like proximity to Boca Raton; participation in Boca Raton matters; knowledge of the political environment in Boca Raton; and, perhaps most important, disenfranchisement of those that voted for Mr. Thomson.

In this regard, the voting public should be the ultimate arbitrator of whether length of residency is critical. Increasing from 30 days to 365 days is unnecessary; a nanny state type reach…again….

Kim Do, in the March 2018 City Council race against then Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers, may also have been eliminated as being within the one year window….Ms. Do is a prime example of my point….Her candidacy resulted in 45% of the voting public expressing their dissatisfaction with the incumbent, Mr. Rodgers. Thousands of voters wanted change to the status quo and without Ms. Do, Mr. Rodgers would have been re-elected without opposition; again disenfranchising that percentage of the population unhappy with his performance, his voting record, over the 3 years he had been in office.

Advantage Incumbent!!!

So, when seeing proposed Ordinance 5453 come forward, I made inquiries as to who was the impetus for its creation; who would be served by these more restrictive City Charter qualifications; who would gain political advantage???

Knowledgeable sources within and outside City Hall revealed that the person, the impetus, for these more restrictive qualification was, you guessed it, Deputy Mayor Scott Singer.

This makes perfect sense….limiting the candidate pool as much as possible clearly is in the interest of an incumbent.

Again: Advantage Incumbent!!!

Or, perhaps better stated,….ADVANTAGE DEPUTY MAYOR SCOTT SINGER!!!

Surprise, surprise….

Alfred Zucaro, Publisher

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*Ordinance No. 5453

An Ordinance of the City of Boca Raton amending Article V, “Qualifications and Elections,” Section 5.03, “Qualifications,” of the Charter of the City of Boca Raton to modify the requirements to qualify as a candidate for City Council, including the office of Mayor, by: (i) extending the length of the residency requirement, establishing certain requirements for residency, and requiring proof of such residency (to be prescribed by Ordinance), and (ii) eliminating the $25 qualifying fee and instead requiring the verified signatures of a specified number of registered voters of the City, and providing for procedures for collection, submission, and verification of such signatures (to be prescribed by Ordinance); providing for a special election regarding the proposed Charter amendments to be held on August 28, 2018 (the date of the primary election); amending Chapter 6, “Elections,” of the Code of Ordinances to create (subject to approval of one, or both, of the above Charter amendments) a new Section 6-16, “Proof of Residency,” prescribing procedures for establishing residency, and a new Section 6-17, “Filing of Petition,” prescribing procedures for the collection, submission, and verification of signatures; providing for severability; providing for repealer; providing for revisions to the City Charter and codification in the City Code, respectively; providing an effective date

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Does a person become wiser in 366 days than in 364 days? Any resident should be allowed, even encouraged, to run.

  2. Thanks to Al Z and Jason Pelish for presenting two different views regarding “qualifications” to be a candidate for elected office here in Boca Raton. While these “qualifications” are certainly an important issue, or aspect concerning how the city elects its’ council and mayor – sadly, the 800-pound Gorilla in the room is campaign financing, and just how broken and corrupted the system appears to be. Therefore, while concerns over qualifications are real, they are just the tip of the iceberg of what is really needed: campaign finance reform.

  3. The whole thing is silly… if you live in Boca, you should have every right in the world to stand for office. Glad a few want to get involved.
    Think the author should is being a little tough singling our Scott. Andrea had every opportunity in the world to support Kim.. but didn’t.If she did… Kim probably would have won and our City would be in a different place. A better place.
    Understand she didn’t think Kim earned the right to serve? Maybe she thought some newcomer might challenge her next time and she might not get invited to all the galas
    and fancy dinners.
    Hate to defend Scott but he has the least to worry about. The rest of them might loose their 15 minutes of fame to a new comer that has the time and energy to actually change a broken City Government.
    Maybe a newcomer would bring some “new” ideas and not owe their 15 minutes of fame to the developers.
    Al… just spread the blame evenly.. they all have a hand in this….They probably came up with this idea over champagne and caviar at one of the
    many many gals they all seem to live for….

  4. Building walls around the City Council by adding new impediments to qualifying as candidates is silly. Let’s give the voters some credit for being able to differentiate the candidates’ ability to represent us. Thankfully, these “tweaks’ to the qualifications will require a charter change which, ultimately, will require voter approval.

  5. I have been a resident a few years longer (1978) than Mr.Zucaro; whom I admire greatly and am thankful for his diligence in working steadfastly in attempting to keeping our city in competent and responsible hands.
    We lost our choices for management in the last election, hopefully with the not so surprising latest news, we will have more representation, and stop this overbuilding and over trafficked place our beloved city has become.

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