Only Locals Can Be Good Candidates: Restriction Is Better


This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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When I first came here to Boca Raton in the seventies there was a short wall along the edge of the dune, at the top of the golf course, at Red Reef, where the monument honoring Don Capron now stands. It used to have big spray painted letters on it: locals only. Red Reef used to be a crowded place to surf when there was actually a reef there. If you weren’t a local you just might get skegged. The message was clear: locals rule.

It took years to make friends and learn who was who, what was worthy and what wasn’t. Some folks were phony. Those folks came and went. Over time you learned who was solid, who were folks you could count on to stick around and build relationships with.

It’s hard to agree with Al’s stance on who should be qualified to be a candidate for a city government office. The idea that someone can move into town and know best how to serve it when they wake up the next morning isn’t easy to get behind. In fact, it might be better to make the qualification even more restrictive.

Why not put a 10 year residence requirement on candidates? Someone who’s been here for 30 years can easily feel overwhelmed everything there is to know. The buildings go up, the trees come down. The qualities that made Boca Raton attractive, to so many of us who moved here decades ago, are forgotten.

What is a greater qualification for a public servant than knowledge of the people, the families, they’re devoting themselves to serve? How can someone picture locations and businesses in their heads and understand issues being voted on if they haven’t actually been there, been a customer, or dealt with the people on a business to business level?

Nobody’s going to go to a veterinarian when their parents or kids are sick. No matter how many pets that good veterinarian has cured and saved, they still aren’t legally qualified to practice on people. And vice versa, for good reasons. Even though people, cats and dogs have the similar parts, the differences between us and them matters.

Same with cities. Just because some candidate has a track record of excellence in a very similar city that doesn’t qualify them as knowledgeable about ours.

It’s once in a blue moon that this author makes an anti-freedom, more-restriction-is-better statement. In this case though, I have to be the one who puts on the red hat and argue that the tradition of putting blood, sweat, tears, and personal investment into a city matters too much.

Do you want to debate this topic, or topics related to South Florida marketing? I’d be glad to weigh in with my opinion. Let me know. -JP

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  1. I disagree with Al and understand Jason’s point of view. Usually when an individual runs for City Council with less than six months residency in Boca Raton, I found that they have been pushed by “others” to run whom would not run themselves. They see the individual as a willing representative of their interests who without experience will do as they say. I would rather see candidates who are residents for at least one year and have attended a minimum number of City Council meetings before filing their candidacy. You can have candidates with great experience elsewhere, but at least a minimal foundation in our city should be a requirement. When I was elected to City Council, my experience serving our community was asked regularly during the election process. I do not believe the incumbents would’ve run unopposed, the opposition would have had to spend more time finding suitable candidates.

  2. I happen to agree with the one year residency rule and can accept the requirement of a minimal amount of qualified resident signatures if adopted. This measure goes in a direction that favors the long-term good governance of our city. It increases the probability of having candidates that are committed to the community.
    This is not an unusual or uncommon provision. It makes me wonder how those that oppose it feel about the qualifications to run for president of US. Should we eliminate those requirements also?

  3. .The one exception you need on the residency rule is for anyone that is annexed into the city, they should be immediately qualified to run for office.

    • Jim,
      Hopefully producing a more qualified candidate and one that has a proven commitment to the City of Boca Raton.

  4. While I do believe that ‘historic knowledge’ of the City is an important ingredient to being a good or “qualified” candidate, I don’t necessarily want to deny or restrict a new resident the opportunity to provide voters an alternative; as many/most encumbents do not deserve to run unopposed. Will this Ordinance contribute to even lower voter turnout?


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