By: Dale King Contributing Writer
The ballot for the state primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 28 contains a couple of local questions that hold special importance for Boca Raton voters.
City electors will go to the polls that day and deal with the outfall from Mayor Susan Haynie’s suspension from elective office April 27 by Gov. Rick Scott on charges stemming from alleged political corruption.
Voters will officially fill the city’s mayoral post and also select a new official to represent Seat A on the City Council, the post vacated by Councilman Scott Singer when he was named Boca’s interim chief executive following Haynie’s suspension.
Three candidates are running for mayor: Singer, seeking to solidify his interim selection; Alfred “Al” Zucaro, a former West Palm Beach City Commissioner who ran for Boca mayor in 2017 and lost to Haynie; and political newcomer Bernard Korn, who caused something of a stir when he listed two different addresses on his candidate declaration form.
City Clerk Susan Saxton said this matter was rectified when Korn signed an affidavit swearing he had lived in the city more than 30 days when he filed the paperwork. The document is dated May 21, and was notarized May 11, she said.
The Aug. 28 election will determine who will be Boca Raton mayor until March of 2020 – or if and until Haynie clears her name. Saxton said if Haynie is acquitted, she can return to complete her term. If that happens, she added, Singer will not be able to take back his seat on the council because he had to file a letter of resignation before being named mayor.
Running for Council Seat A: Andy Thomson, who was a candidate last year for Seat B on the council, but lost to Andrea Levine O’Rourke; Kathy Cottrell, a Boca Raton native who is a senior consultant for Fortune 500 companies; and Tamara McKee, a small business owner who works in the advertising, film and television industry.
While Election Day is scheduled for Aug. 28, early voting will begin Aug. 13 and continue through Aug. 26. Voters may cast early ballots at the city’s downtown library on NW Second Avenue each day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Polls on Election Day will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A veteran Boca politician with nearly two decades of experience as a council member and mayor, Haynie was in the middle of her second three-year term as chief executive, and had already announced a run for the District 4 Palm Beach County Commission seat when a series of newspaper articles and a local investigation linked her with an allegedly improper financial situation.
As a result, Scott issued an executive order suspending Haynie. She is currently awaiting trial.
Haynie, 62, is accused of not reporting several sources of income, totaling $335,000 since 2014, on financial disclosure forms required by state law.
Investigators said about a third of that income came from real estate developers James and Marta Batmasian.
During the period she was allegedly receiving the money from the Batmasians, Haynie cast favorable votes on construction projects proposed by the couple, allegedly without disclosing the conflict of interest, the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office said.
A South Florida native, Singer was elected to the council four years ago. A graduate of Harvard and of Georgetown Law, he is a small business owner and works as a lawyer to help other small businesses grow.
During his time on the council, he said, “I’ve worked to bring needed change to champion a new school for Boca. I oppose overdevelopment, seek to improve planning, increase high-paying jobs and enhance green space and services, all while keeping taxes low and maintaining world-class public safety.”
A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Fordham University, Zucaro has a law degree from Nova Southeastern University College of Law. He is employed as member-manager of Palm Beach Investment and Finance, LLC.
Korn is a political newcomer who works as a real estate agent. He did not respond to a questionnaire from the Boca Raton Newspaper.
However, he has a website for his two businesses, Undiscovered Properties and Travel Lines Express Inc., which states that he is a candidate for president of the United States.
As to the Seat A council race, candidate Kathy Cottrell recently received the endorsement of Boca Beautiful, an organization committed to educating, informing and preserving the beauty of Boca Raton.
In her biography, she said she has worked on “complex projects and issues requiring state-of-the-art technical or industry knowledge; designed, developed and implemented award-winning organizational programs and managed multi-million dollar budgets.”
Thomson last month received the endorsement of the Business Leaders United for Boca Raton (BLU-PAC), the political action committee of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, for his contributions to education. The candidate has extensive legal and business experience and has done pro bono work for local companies and individuals.
He is a graduate of public schools, played football at Georgia Tech where he earned a degree in electrical engineering and received his J.D. degree from the University of Miami Law School.
McKee is a mother of four children who has volunteered at more than 30 nonprofit organizations in Boca Raton, including Hospice by the Sea, Boca Ballet, Boca Helping Hands, Spanish River High School, Don Estridge Middle School and the A.D. Henderson School at Florida Atlantic University.
Her biography says she is the “only candidate with quasi-judicial, quasi-legislative, fiduciary and disciplinary experience.”