Three qualified candidates are running for Seat B on the Boca Raton City Council. But let’s talk first about the person who has the seat now.
That would be Mike Mullaugh, who’s term-limited. Of all five council members, Mullaugh often says the most while speaking the least. He displays even temperament, good sense and perspective. We see the most potential for such a council member in Andy Thomson.
On his Sun Sentinel questionnaire, Thomson noted the strident criticism of the council regarding development and the Wildflower property. “Too often,” Thomson wrote, “some people lose sight of how good we really have it in Boca Raton … Many cities in South Florida are struggling with how to reduce their crime rate or address the sober home epidemic. In Boca Raton, however, our most intense debate centered on whether to have a park or a high-end restaurant on a prime piece of waterfront real estate.”
Thomson, a lawyer, is running against Emily Gentile and Andrea O’Rourke. They agree on many issues. The proposed 2,500 residential units for the Midtown area are too many. The $24 million offer from Lennar for the Ocean Breeze golf course is too high. The council should conduct public evaluations of City Manager Leif Ahnell and City Attorney Diana Grub Frieser every year. Downtown needs better amenities and a shuttle service.
That waterfront ordinance, however, separates the candidates. Gentile and Thomson favored the restaurant, which could have brought the city tens of millions in lease payments over 45 years and which the ordinance will prevent. O’Rourke said the ordinance would “protect Boca’s waterfront parks,” even though no park was proposed for the property. Even now, O’Rourke refers to “Wildflower Park.” In fact, the council has not decided on a use for the property.