It may seem early to begin considering the municipal elections of Boca Raton in March 2017 but I assure you it is not….
Please indulge me with pondering the possibilities raised within this article below.
A bit of history…
In the 2014 City Council elections, residents had the opportunity to replace four seats on the Council. Mayor Whelchel was termed out and Deputy Mayor Haynie elected to run for the Mayor’s spot; Councilman Majhess vacated his council seat to run against Deputy Mayor Haynie; Robert Weinroth ran for and was elected to the remainder of the Majhess term; Scott Singer ran for the seat Haynie vacated and was elected unopposed; Councilman Mullaugh ran and was elected for his second and final term.
The outcome actually resulted in two new faces on the Council, Councilmen Singer and Weinroth.
In 2015, two additional opportunities presented themselves. Councilwoman Constance Scott was termed limited out and replaced by Councilman Jeremy Rodgers in a three way contested election.
Councilman Weinroth ran and was elected unopposed to a new full term in the previously held Majhess seat.
At first, these changes seemed refreshing, yes… but not nearly enough to have changed the inbred anti-resident attitude which still, to this day, remains…
With no elections in March 2016, attitudes of contempt and disdain for an involved electorate still carry the day. Citizens can present sentiment by the volume and, even when coupled with facts, still receive the proverbial ‘back hand’ from City Staff as well as a collective nonresponsive Council…
So what to do….
March, 2017 is but a mere 17 months away and cannot come soon enough. That election cycle presents an even greater moment than 2014 to change the status quo.
Three seats will be in play….
Mayor Haynie is expected to run for a second and final term; Councilman Singer is also expected to run for his second and final term; and the vacant seat of Councilman Mullaugh becomes an open seat as Mullaugh is termed out, and, by City Charter, cannot run for a third term.
Qualifying for these three seats will open in December 2016, a mere 14 months from now. To date, one candidate has announced for the open seat; Joe Panella, a longtime resident of Boca Raton. Others are currently considering entering the race but are not ready to announce as of this time.
So why a “Shell Game”….
Outlined below is a summary of Boca Raton’s Municipal Election events and a 5 year timeline chart from March 2015 to March 2020. The outline provides great cause for concern if changing the insidious behavior towards residents from past and current Councils is to happen.
Summery of Municipal Events
Presented here is a flow chart that outlines the course of events in Boca Raton over the next five years based on the following assumptions:
Mayor Susan Haynie is reelected in March 2017 and chooses to run for other office in November 2018.
Councilman Scott Singer is reelected in March 2017 and chooses to run for other office in November 2018.
In Boca Raton, in the event of a vacancy in the of office Mayor, the Deputy Mayor succeeds to the office of Mayor until the last day of March following the next regular City election.
In Boca Raton, in the event of a vacancy in the office of City Council, the remaining Council members, including the Mayor, will fill the vacancy by appointment by a majority vote. The person appointed will hold office until the last day of March following the next regular City election.
There is no provision in the City Charter to fill a vacancy by special election.
Since there will be no City election in Boca Raton in 2019, any vacancy created by the resignation of the Mayor in November 2018, regardless of what office she runs for, would result in the Deputy Mayor completing the remainder of her term.
Since there will be no City election in Boca Raton in 2019, any vacancy created by the resignation of Scott Singer in November 2018, regardless of what office he runs for, would result in an appointment by the remaining Council members, including the Mayor, for the remainder of his term.
Considering the above, let’s explore the possibilities that exist. County Commissioner Steve Abrams is term limited in November 2018. State Representative Bill Hager is also termed out in November 2018. Both these seats are natural political progressions for Boca Raton City Council members. Residents have seen this progression in the past with former Mayor Abrams now serving as County Commissioner; and, former City Councilmember Hager serving as State Representative
So if the Mayor and/or either of the two Councilmembers elected in March 2017 were to ‘resign to run’ for these available seats, the rules outlined above would prevail. The unfilled Mayor’s term would be filled by the Deputy Mayor and the unfilled Councilmember’s term would be filled by appointment of the remaining four Councilmembers. This is truly worrisome to those residents looking to change overdevelopment as a continuing pattern.
The ‘resign to run’ law requires a sitting elected official to irrevocably resign his/her elected position effective the first day that elected official would take the oath of office for the seat sought, win or lose.
As you can see, the stakes are even higher now than in the March 2014 election cycle. Not only is the 2017 Mayor’s election result important for all the obvious reasons but another item of import exists. The Council’s appointment to the Deputy Mayor slot is a significant item given the method in which that seat is filled until the March 2020 election cycle ….
And since any vacancy to a City Council position is also filled until March 2020 by appointment of the remaining Council members, residents need to be extremely vigilant in this election cycle or forfeit any ability to change the course of events for years to come….
Perhaps ‘Shell Game” is a bit harsh but the political players are sure to be dancing to the music….and as for the future of this city, the residents’ vision of what Boca Raton is and will evolve to be is definitely at stake….