Meet the Candidates: Boca Raton Seat C and Seat D
Boca Raton’s city elections are March 13, with voters choosing officials to fill Seats C and D on the city commission. Here are profiles for the candidates, in alphabetical order.
Background: Do immigrated to the United States from Vietnam. A real estate investor, she has degrees in accounting and law. Do moved to Boca Raton 10 months ago. She has two children at Boca Raton Middle School. She has not served on city boards.
On the record: Do said her priority is school crowding. Her children attend one of the county’s most crowded schools. She wants another high school for Boca Raton, but doesn’t say where the city might have the 40 to 50 acres required for a high school. If that happened and the school district requested a high school, the state would have to approve it.
Do disagrees with opponent Jeremy Rodgers’ vote against selling the western golf course. She supports the council’s goal of creating a new downtown campus around City Hall and the library. “I love that idea. That’s what world-class cities have.” Regarding plans for the Wildflower property, Do says, “The consultants are the experts.”
On other topics, Do is less certain. She guessed the city’s tax rate to be roughly one-third what it is. On redevelopment of Midtown, Do said she favored the decision to create what the city is calling a “small area master plan,” but beyond that she has few specifics. “I will follow the staff recommendations.”
Background: Rodgers is finishing his first three-year term. He has four children, works for IBM and serves in the Naval Reserve. Before his election to the council, Rodgers served on the Financial Advisory Board.
Rodgers voted to approve phases 2 and 3 of Via Mizner and Mizner 200—now The Monarch—among notable development projects. In both cases, the vote was unanimous. He voted to approve a revised version of University Village, the 80-acre mixed-use project on Spanish River Boulevard, that is forecast to cause less traffic than the first version.
As Do said, Rodgers also voted against selling the western golf course. He voted against a zoning appeal for a property owner who wants to build a home on the beachfront. He has voted against the two firefighter and one police contract to come before the council. In all cases, he was the only dissenter.
On the record: “I think the city is firing on all cylinders,” Rodgers said. Economic development has been his priority, and Rodgers cites the announcement last summer by Modernizing Medicine that the company will add 800-plus jobs and move to a bigger headquarters within the city.
Rodgers has several thoughts about what the city should allow in Midtown, where he believes that “investment is needed.” He calls the landowners’ request for 2,500 units “too high,” and he wants a “better allocation” of the units within Midtown’s 300 acres. He does not believe that a Tri-Rail station must be in place before approval of any residential development and he believes that landowners should phase in public works improvements such as sidewalks.
He calls Do “a nice person” but says she lacks experience. “I’ve slowed down development, and I’ve got a rock-solid record of helping neighborhoods.”
Background: Grossman spent much of his life in Miami-Dade County. He was a public school teacher, administrator and coach. Grossman also served four years on the Miami Springs City Council, from 1977 to 1981.
Grossman moved to Boca Raton in 2004. He has served on the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees and served from 2013 to 2016 on the Palm Beach County Planning Commission, an advisory body. He announced his candidacy for the Boca Raton City Council in 2015, but dropped out shortly afterward.
Grossman is a real estate investor and is a licensed real estate broker. Though an internet search shows items listing Grossman as a vice-president of Penn-Florida—the company developing Via Mizner and University Village—Grossman said he worked only as a contractor seeking investment capital in China. Penn-Florida’s chief operating officer confirms that. The Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Grossman.
On the record: “I bring 50 years of professional experience,” Grossman said. “I’ve dealt with budgets. I’ve set policy.” He casts his main opponent, Monica Mayotte, as comparatively inexperienced.
Grossman supports the council’s decision to sell the western golf course and he is “100 percent” behind the idea of creating a new downtown government/civic campus on the roughly 30 acres of city-owned land. He favored the plan to lease the Wildflower property for a restaurant.
Regarding Midtown, the area east of Town Center Mall where the city is trying to set development rules, Grossman calls such planned mobility districts “the wave of the future.” A Tri-Rail station, he said, is “not necessary” before development could start. He wants “no tall towers,” says “the market will dictate” the type of housing, and “can’t say” whether the proposed 2,500-unit cap is the right amount of residential.
“I’m for responsible growth,” Grossman said, citing his vote on the planning commission against the Minto/Westlake project west of West Palm Beach. Mayotte, he said, “is totally anti-development. That’s all she talks about. She’s a one-trick pony.”
On the record: Mayotte’s priority is “stopping overdevelopment.” She is campaigning much as Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke did in 2017. Like O’Rourke, Mayotte says development should match Boca Raton’s “core values.” Mayotte doesn’t offer ideas against “overdevelopment,” but she cites The Mark at Cityscape as a problem because “the street is too small.” It was the first project approved under the downtown rules that allow extra height for adhering to the Interim Design Guidelines.
Mayotte also criticizes the council’s decision—with Mayor Susan Haynie dissenting—to shrink the lot size for that added downtown height. The council did that for the Tower 155 condo project. She has “no problem” with the Hyatt Place Hotel. Via Mizner, she said, “had no input” from neighbors.
Mayotte said recent development could pose problems for the city’s infrastructure and water supply. Regarding school crowding, she wants more “two-way communication” between the city and the school district over what effect projects will have on schools.
Mayotte believes that the three biggest issues facing the next council will be development of the Wildflower property, Midtown and possible new development plans for the Blue Lake area west of I-95 on Yamato Road. Mayotte told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board that she would consider raising taxes rather than change the contract that allows firefighters to work one day and have three days off. In most cities, it’s two days off.
Grossman, Mayotte said, “lived in Miami for 35 years. I’ve been very involved in this community for a long time and I would be a better voice for the residents.”
Background: Preste is a physician who practices in Fort Lauderdale. Unlike Grossman and Mayotte, he does not own property in Boca Raton and he was reluctant at first to reveal his address.
Preste’s only involvement with the city before qualifying for Seat D was to offer to buy the western golf course. Preste said he would build a health care complex on the site. The council did not consider his offer.
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