Published On: Tue, Mar 14th, 2017

Andy Thomson Questionnaire

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Below is a questionnaire sent by the Tribune staff to sent to Andy Thomson and his answers.

  1. Name: Andy Thomson
  2. Personal: Age: 34, Neighborhood: Millpond, Family: Married to Joanna Thomson. We have three children: Allie (4 years old), Maddie (3), and Henry (1)
  3. Education:
    •  B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Georgia Tech, J.D.
    • University of Miami School of Law
  4. Profession: Business litigation attorney – I resolve business disputes
  5. Political Background: This is my first run for elected office
  6. Public Service experience, community and civic involvement:
    • Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Advisory Council
    • Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Bell Education Foundation (Director)
    •  Children’s Home Society, Palm Beach Division (Director)
    • Florence Fuller Child Development Centers’ Advisory Council
    • Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s South County Steering Committee
    • South Palm Beach County Bar Association’s Civil Practice Committee
    • Boca Raton Bowl Community Captain – Mentor to FAU Student, Eda & Cliff Viner Community Scholars Foundation
    • 2016 Recipient of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s Non-Profit Award (awarded for providing hundreds of hours of pro bono legal services)
  7. Why is City Government important? City government impacts our lives far more than people may realize. Public safety, traffic, development, and parks and beaches are all matters that are governed at least in part at the local level.
  8. What’s your vision for the city? I want to see our City:
    • Keep our neighborhoods safe and work with local police and first responders to ensure they have the training and resources they need.
    • Protect Boca’s character and charm through responsible development and ensure our neighborhoods are involved in major City decisions.
    • Preserve our parks and beaches for our families so future generations can continue to enjoy everything Boca Raton has to offer. – Support our local businesses and keep taxes low so Boca Raton continues to be a world-class city with good jobs, great schools and excellent city services.
  9. What are you plans for the ongoing traffic in the city?
    • I plan to leverage my professional experience in fixing traffic problems. Before I became a business attorney, I studied engineering at Georgia Tech and worked at a civil engineering firm where we did urban planning, transportation planning, and traffic studies. Our engineering firm was hired by municipalities like Boca Raton to study transportation issues and develop solutions. I worked to gather traffic data and helped my colleagues propose improvements to ease traffic congestion and address parking issues. Planning experience like this will be incredibly useful on the City Council, and I am the only candidate who offers it. People are concerned that traffic is getting worse and the City is not doing enough about it. Some of the traffic is the product of the desirability of living in South Florida – particularly Boca Raton – because people will always want to live here. Some of the traffic comes not from Boca Raton or its downtown, but from neighboring communities. And although not all of our City’s traffic issues are capable of being “solved,” work can be done to improve the traffic situation. Planned mobility developments can be employed to reduce car trips. Traffic can be diverted from the walkable (or what should be walkable) areas of downtown, like Federal Highway, to less walkable and industrial roads like Dixie Highway in a “Downtown Bypass,” thereby reducing car trips inside the downtown because people will be more willing to walk within the downtown than to drive. The timing of our traffic signals should be studied comprehensively and synchronized to create a more efficient traffic flow. All of these potential solutions are best addressed and administered by someone with professional experience in fixing traffic problems: me.
  10. What are your thoughts on the Midtown Project? I support the planned mobility concept generally, but I have concerns about Midtown’s proposed density as well as the purported neighborhood support that appears to have been exaggerated. To their credit, the developers have sought additional time to work with the neighboring communities to arrive at a plan that works for everyone most impacted. At this point, though, lots of questions remain.
  11. What are your thoughts on compensation for elected officials: No one should get rich from working in public service, but elected officials should be paid a decent wage so that qualified candidates of all socioeconomic backgrounds – not just the independently wealthy or retired – can afford to serve.
  12. Which do you think is best for the City: single member district or at-large election? I prefer at-large representation. Our representatives should protect the interests of all residents, not just their immediate neighbors. And in our current system of at-large representation, it would be a major problem if a City Councilperson protected his or her neighbors rather than everyone.
  13. What are your views on annexation?
    • Annexation can be good for our City, but only when it makes sense economically; that is, the revenues generated from the annexation would need to exceed the projected costs of services. In addition, any potential annexation should fit comfortably within the character of our City. For example, the City recently considered annexing Boniello Acres, an equestrian-style community where residents are permitted to keep farm animals such as goats, chickens, and horses. It would not make sense for the City to incorporate that type of community, and their residents to a large extent seemed to feel the same way.
  14. What are your thoughts on the developments in Downtown?
    • The development in our downtown is part of a plan approved by the City – both the Council and the residents – twenty-five years ago. Generally, I believe that growth is inevitable; the key is for the growth to be responsible and sustainable. There is an analogy I use that captures this sentiment well. My daughter Allie, at four years old, is the perfect age. She is so much fun, so innocent, and always happy; part of me wishes that I could keep her this age forever. That’s a natural feeling for most parents. As natural as that feeling may be, however, I cannot prevent her from growing up, and if I tried, the consequences would be disastrous. The same is true for our City. I love Boca Raton and want to protect its charm and character. But we cannot stay the same age forever; we would become stagnant and begin to deteriorate. Instead, the key is to make sure that we manage Boca’s growth so that it is done in a responsible and sustainable way, and that’s what I plan to do.
  15. Is there anything City Council is doing wrong? If so, what would you do to fix it:
    • Our traffic situation needs to be addressed more comprehensively in the manner I’ve discussed above. Also, one of my biggest priorities on the Council is to improve the transparency and inclusivity of the City’s decision-making process. Recently there has been divisiveness within our City on particular issues, and I believe that creating a more transparent vetting process for City projects, and doing a better job of increasing public participation, will help to ease the tensions.

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