Reasons to Vote Yes on Question 1 in the March 14th City Election
By: Mayor Scott Singer
Boca Raton residents will have a choice to vote on March 14th for a good-governance measure that will keep our city elections non-partisan, freer from special interests and constant politicking, while preserving term limits. Question 1 will ask if voters want to change the term of office for city council members and the mayor to four years, all while maintaining the current two-term limit for each role. Even though I will not be on the ballot, as I am honored to have been reelected without opposition, I still think it’s important that you vote on March 14th. Here are several reasons why voters should say yes to Question 1:
- Less Politicking: When Boca Raton residents in 2006 overwhelmingly approved the change from 2-year to 3-year terms, it was to focus more on policy and less on constant politicking with elections every year. Yet we still have elections either four out of every five years or three out of five, which impacts long-term planning and has some costs. The change would reduce potential impacts and influence of special interests, especially with campaign cycles lasting longer and longer.
- Non-Partisanship: It is a good thing that our city elections remain non-partisan. As a result, we have less of the constant fighting seen in Washington and the nation. If we do not make a change now, our next election will coincide with the presidential preference primary (PPP) in 2024, and again in future cycles. No matter who is the White House, the electorate at a PPP will be more partisan and different from the voters who take the time to focus on city issues, with few fewer independent voters coming out. If we want to avoid excessive partisan politics in our city elections and remain focused on serving the residents on local issues, now is the time to make this change.
- Consistency: Boca Raton is the only city of Florida’s 25 most populous cities that does not have a four-year term for mayor or commission members. Eighty-two percent of the top 50 cities also have four-year terms. Our other local offices of county commission, school board, and Beach & Parks District all also have four-year terms. This reform measure would bring consistency to the election cycles we already expect.
- Term Limits Still in Place: Term limits remain completely in place, and the proposal would provide elections every two years for half the council to ensure accountability with stability. Unlike many other cities that have no term limits, we would retain the two-term limit.
- Why Now? Now is an especially appropriate time to ensure more long-term stability on the city council with the city manager due to retire in just over a year, and the city attorney soon thereafter. Both have been on the job for more than two decades. The change necessarily gives some council members an extra year, and the experience may prove for the better for continuity. We also just had an election where all three council seats were filled without opposition. The extra year would deepen the pool of potential public servants.
- Long-Term Accountability: I have experienced first-hand how time on the dais and seasoned relationships with residents and neighborhoods has helped me and others be more effective public servants. Our current irregular schedule has an impact on getting focus on multi-year priorities, which is part of why residents approved the prior change. For example, long-term transportation projects are funded six years in advance. Under our current cycle, council members might not be around to support the implementation of ideas they propose. The better cycle would ensure council members can be expected to deliver results while in office.
For these reasons, I believe voters should support this measure and for YES on Question 1. The other cities that have considered this issue have generally voted two-to-one in favor or sometimes higher percentages, and I think we should do so as well. It is true that some council members (myself included) would gain an extra year of service, but that is a simple fact of math as the change requires an extra year somewhere. I also think the measure would cut down on special-interest influence and partisan bickering, and enhance accountability and long-term vision. I hope you agree these are good things for our community.
One more note: if you want to vote by mail, you need to request a new mail-in ballot this year because a change to state law made last year. You can do so at pbcelections.org, where you can also find your polling place for in-person voting on Tuesday, March 14. Regardless of the term length, I remain honored to serve you. Please reach out by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts or requests. Thank you.
Scott Singer is the 35th Mayor of Boca Raton and was re-elected without opposition for a final term. A South Florida native, attorney, mediator, and small business owner, Scott and his wife Bella live in Broken Sound with their two young children.