This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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It’s Time for Real Change!
Vote for Al Zucaro
City Council Seat A
No endorsement – Let the voters decide
City Council Seat B
Vote for Andrea Levine O’Rourke
With three City Council seats up for grabs, this year’s municipal election offers voters the opportunity for significant and meaningful change in the governance of the city. Dependent upon the outcome, Boca Raton will either continue on its path of overdevelopment and increasing traffic issues, or it will choose new faces that will be more resident friendly and inclusive on development and traffic issues.
It is BocaWatch’s intent to endorse only those qualified candidates that are ‘resident friendly’ and will oppose the forces of overdevelopment while exhibiting leadership qualities.
BocaWatch thanks all candidates that participated in our series of exclusive interviews for their transparency in the process.
Unfortunately, Mayor Susan Haynie, along with Council Seat B candidates Emily Gentile and Andy Thomson, declined the opportunity to be heard by the growing BocaWatch readership. In these instances, BocaWatch relied on public record information including, but not limited to; media reports; public record comments, public forum comments; campaign websites; and campaign finance reports.
Susan Haynie (incumbent): Ms. Haynie has served on City Council as Councilwoman and Mayor for well over a decade. Her experience as a municipal servant is well documented. That is without question. What is questionable, and a matter of concern, is her voting record of the past ten years on development issues that negatively impact the resident’s quality of life.
With rare exception, Ms. Haynie has repeatedly voted to approve the variances, technical deviations and zoning modifications that have negatively impacted our roadways. According to her campaign website, this comes from an individual who holds “certification in Traffic Engineering Studies from Georgia Institute of Technology and Northwestern University”.
Other votes include: Approval of a sixty percent density increase for the yet to be developed University Village; Approval of a variance for 2500 N. Ocean Blvd. to build a mansion on pristine beachfront; Approval of a variance to allow a museum on the barrier island against city code; Approval of an Ordinance to raise building heights from one hundred feet to one hundred forty feet; lobbied to limit residents ability to contest development issues through referendum; campaigned against the citizen petition, turned referendum, to protect our city owned Intracoastal waterfront properties from commercial development. There are many other votes from the Mayor that follow this pattern.
Ms. Haynie’s stance on the Intracoastal waterfront issue displayed how out of touch she has become with her voting constituency as the measure passed overwhelmingly at the ballot box. She is now backed financially by the same forces that have instigated a lawsuit against the city to overturn the citizen’s vote at the polls.
Ms. Haynie has previously claimed that she has voted “NO”, more than “YES”, on development issues. Her voting record proves just the opposite. This calls into question her integrity. It is worth mentioning that Ms. Haynie is heavily endorsed by development interests.
Despite her experience, which now qualifies her as a career politician, she has accumulated a resident unfriendly voting record that does not warrant a BocaWatch endorsement. It is time to turn the page on Mayor Haynie’s political career in Boca and get a fresh start with a resident friendly voice.
Al Zucaro: Mr. Zucaro is also a candidate with significant experience in local politics. Mr. Zucaro, a practicing attorney, served for eight years as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach, Florida. Since moving to Boca Raton nine years ago, Mr. Zucaro has been a familiar figure at City Council, Planning and Zoning, Beach and Parks District and other municipal board meetings. After witnessing, firsthand, the dismissal of the resident voices at City Hall, Mr. Zucaro created this citizen platform, BocaWatch.org, as a means for the residents to have a voice in the city’s public affairs. Under his leadership, BocaWatch has attracted more than twenty thousand followers and has already had a meaningful impact on resident awareness on local government issues. Mr. Zucaro gave up all editorial responsibilities at BocaWatch upon filing to run for Mayor.
During his time in West Palm Beach, Mr. Zucaro faced challenges in his business dealings. Some of these challenges were dismissed without merit, while others were settled privately. Nonetheless, these matters were very much in the public eye and will open the door for his opponent to go on the attack. BocaWatch took this seriously and conducted its own investigation. It was discovered that Mr. Zucaro never suffered censure or suspension of his legal license during this time in his career. Those findings, and in consideration of Mr. Zucaro’s contribution to the residents of the city have given BocaWatch the confidence to soundly endorse his candidacy.
Zucaro is the best candidate to represent the concerns of the residents of Boca Raton. He has the experience and he believes deeply in the BocaWatch claim that “An Informed Citizenry is an Asset to a Community”. If you have concerns about overdevelopment and desire greater transparency in government, vote for Al Zucaro as your next Mayor.
Seat ‘A’ Candidates
Scott Singer (Incumbent): Having run unopposed three years ago, Mr. Singer is facing opposition for the first time in his political career. His achievements stand above his City Council colleagues, an admittedly low bar, indeed. During his current term in office, Mr. Singer has conducted himself professionally in his role as Chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency. To his credit, he has offered numerous town hall meetings and more recently ‘telephone town halls’.
Mr. Singer’s willingness to engage the residents in dialogue is a plus, but his voting record on behalf of the residents has been inconsistent. Yes, he was willing to consider alternatives other than a restaurant for our valuable, city owned waterfront properties and conducted a visioning workshop to prioritize different concepts. Yes, he spoke out loudly and opposed the increased density for University Village. However, his voting record on behalf of residents is not without disappointment; particularly on several high-profile issues. Similar to Mayor Haynie, Mr. Singer approved a variance for 2500 N. Ocean Blvd to build a mansion on pristine beachfront; he voted to approve a variance to allow a museum on the barrier island against city code. He also voted to approve changing existing code requiring 2.0 acres to 1.25 acres to accommodate Tower 155’s height change from one-hundred feet to one-hundred-forty feet. Due to the significance of these votes, which BocaWatch considers not to be resident friendly, we will not endorse Scott Singer for this election.
Patti Dervishi: Ms. Dervishi is an interesting candidate. She has lived in Boca Raton for many years and has been outspoken about overdevelopment and quality of life issues for the past ten years. She has actively supported and worked on the campaigns of resident friendly candidates. She has been singularly focused with her concern of overdevelopment and traffic issues. She is clearly a resident friendly choice.
BocaWatch applauds her entry into this year’s election race. Without question, it is the issue of overdevelopment that is most on the minds of the residents. However, there are other issues that face the governance of the city. It is for this reason that BocaWatch will not endorse Ms. Dervishi for this election. We know she will find voters that will share her passion on the main issue and we wish her well.
Seat ‘B’ Candidates
Emily Gentile: Ms. Gentile arrived on the Boca Raton scene approximately nine years ago. She recently served on the Downtown Advisory Committee and its affiliated Business Improvement Steering District. She also touts an extensive list of volunteer activities.
According to her public statements Ms. Gentile’s professional career includes advising Fortune 500+ companies and has overseen five hundred million dollar budgets during her working career. Impressive. However, since Ms. Gentile did not accept the invitation to interview with BocaWatch, we were forced to examine some of her claims.
First of all, her professional claims are undocumented and Ms. Gentile has offered no specifics on companies she represented and the extent of her involvement. Accessing the state of Florida website SunBiz.org., BocaWatch discovered through a record search that the two entities Ms. Gentile claims to be a board member of: “The Beach Condominium Association of Boca Raton and Highland Beach”, and the “Yacht and Racquet Club HOA” are not listed nor recognized by the State of Florida as registered entities. A further search reveals that Ms. Gentile’s name does not appear on any SunBiz record as a director. While Ms. Gentile may in fact be a board member of the named organizations, the organizations themselves apparently have no official standing in the State of Florida. Typically, HOA’s and Associations do register with the State.
The recent public forum conducted by the Boca Raton Federation of Homeowner’s Associations was revealing. Ms. Gentile not only gave factually incorrect information, she exhibited a rather aggressive demeanor toward residents when challenged on the facts. Due to misleading claims and misstatements made by Ms. Gentile in other public forums and during ‘public comments’ at city hall and based on her apparent lack of knowledge and unpredictable temperament, BocaWatch cannot endorse her candidacy.
Andy Thomson: Of all the candidates BocaWatch considered, Mr. Thomson was the easiest to review due to his lack of both experience and participation in civic affairs. In his case, there was very little history or information to draw upon. Mr. Thomson moved to the City of Boca Raton a mere six months ago. He has never voted in a municipal election nor served on a city board. This alone is a nonstarter.
Another nonstarter is the fact that as of the December campaign treasurer report filing, approximately sixty percent of Mr. Thomson’s campaign funding was provided by attorney’s and the developer – commercial landowner interests. The latter special interest group raises great concern for BocaWatch. Based on these factors, BocaWatch cannot endorse his candidacy.
Andre Levine O’Rourke: As a resident for twenty years in West Boca and now having lived in East Boca for seventeen years, Ms. O’Rourke has firmly established herself in the community through business ownership, professional career and volunteer efforts. Ms. O’Rourke has raised her family here and is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University. She is well known by the BocaWatch family as she provided a moderating tone during her short tenure as Editor in Chief of BocaWatch.org. She resigned her post in August of 2016 upon filing to run for City Council.
Ms. O’Rourke has earned a stellar reputation over the years, from those who know her, as a dedicated, hard worker. Her leadership skills have been on full display to the public through her tenure as Chairperson of the umbrella organization, The Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner’s Associations, which serves the HOA’s of the entire city through regular monthly meetings and forums.
Ms. O’Rourke has voiced her opposition to overdevelopment publicly. She prefers reasonable, sustainable growth that addresses quality of life issues. She favors developer give-back in the form of green space and art in public places. She has not only talked the talk; she has walked the walk. Her regular appearances and contributions to dialogue at City Council, Planning and Zoning and other City meetings on behalf of residents has covered many years. Having served as the Director of Communications for the Chamber of Commerce in the mid-eighties and later a management position at the not-for-profit HARID Conservatory, her sense of local history and institutional knowledge is both broad and deep.
Ms. O’Rourke’s honesty, integrity and commitment to a better Boca Raton is beyond reproach. BocaWatch proudly gives her a solid endorsement.