By Steve Plunkett
If mayoral candidate Bernard Korn votes in the city’s Aug. 28 special election, it will be the first ballot he has ever cast in Palm Beach County, the county’s top elections official says.
Korn registered to vote for the first time April 9, according to Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. Her office has no record of his voting in previous elections or even signing up to vote.
“That’s all I can find,” Bucher said.
Korn’s voter registration may also be the first official document he has showing a Boca Raton address: 720 Marble Way on the barrier island. But he also asked Bucher’s office to send any mail to 19078 Skyridge Circle, a house far west of the city that he and his wife, Kathy, bought in 2000.
Property records showing his ownership of the Skyridge Circle house — plus his use of a Pak Mail of West Boca post office box on campaign documents — have raised questions about Korn’s residency ever since he opened a campaign account in January.
Outside City Hall on June 12, he said he has been asked “a thousand times” about where he lives — “I’ve been a resident since 2000,” he said, adding it was “all in the documents.”
“The City Clerk’s Office, the Supervisor of Elections, the state Division of Elections — they’ve all signed off on it,” Korn said as he passed out palm cards and shook hands with people going into the City Council meeting.
But City Clerk Susan Saxton, who acts as the elections supervisor for Boca Raton contests, said she does not check residency beyond making sure a candidate signed the city’s sworn affidavit.
“How could we check? If they’re renting there’s really no way” beyond taking them at their word, Saxton said.
Korn on May 11 signed a notarized statement that he is “a qualified elector” of Boca Raton and has been a resident for “not less than thirty (30) days prior to the first day of the qualifying period for candidates.” He submitted the document May 21, the first day of qualifying, thus becoming an official candidate.
Also qualifying for the mayor’s race were lawyer and Mayor Scott Singer and lawyer Al Zucaro.
Korn’s campaign took an unusual detour April 1 when he signed on as campaign treasurer of Richard Vecchio’s short-lived run for mayor. Korn simultaneously was treasurer of his own campaign. Vecchio did not follow through on officially qualifying.
Korn’s April 9 voter registration was one of two steps he took that month to establish Boca Raton residency. On April 12 he filed a Declaration of Domicile in Palm Beach County’s official records stating 720 Marble Way is his “predominant and principal home” and has been for “5 (five) years.”
Property appraiser records show he and Kathy Korn have a homestead exemption for the Skyridge Circle house, which is in the gated Saturnia community west of U.S. 441, that started in 2001 and continues today. Homestead exemptions are granted “if your property is your permanent residence,” Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks says on her website.
Jacks’ records show the house at 720 Marble Way also has a homestead exemption — for Vecchio, who like Korn is a registered real estate broker.
Neither Korn nor Vecchio returned a phone call or replied to an email seeking comment by press time.
On the same day Korn registered to vote using the Marble Way address, he re-registered with the state two franchise businesses he operates — Undiscovered Properties Inc. and Travel Lines Express Inc. — using the Skyridge Circle address.
Campaign finance reports for May, the latest available, show Korn has received no contributions from individuals or businesses. He has lent his campaign $2,602.72 so far.
Zucaro lent his campaign $3,500 during the nine days in May he was a candidate. Singer, who has taken contributions since October, has $84,345.
Singer and Zucaro both have voted regularly in past elections, records show.
The website Korn uses to solicit clients for Undiscovered Properties and Travel Lines Express also seeks support for his 2020 campaign to become president of the United States.
On July 24 the City Council will consider asking voters whether a candidate should be a resident for a year to qualify. The proposed language also would disqualify a person who has a homestead exemption on a residence outside the city during that time.
WHAT: Candidates in the Aug. 28 special election will answer questions posed by a moderator from the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations.
WHO: Running for mayor are real estate broker Bernard Korn, lawyer and current Mayor Scott Singer and lawyer Al Zucaro. Running for City Council Seat A are consultant Kathy Cottrell, actress Tamara McKee and lawyer Andy Thomson.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 9
WHERE: Municipal Building, 6500 Congress Ave.