By Steve Plunkett
If campaign contribution dollars were votes, Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers would be the shoo-in for the March 13 City Council election.
As of Feb. 9, Rodgers had collected $57,970 in donations and a $5,000 self-loan, campaign finance reports show. His election war chest far eclipsed that of his challenger for Seat C, Kim Do, who had $1,800 in contributions and a $30,889 self-loan. It also outpaced donations for all three hopefuls for Seat D: Monica Mayotte ($19,325 from contributors; $25,000 from herself), Armand Grossman ($23,405 in contributions; $50,000 self-loan), and Paul Preste ($850 self-loan; he is not seeking contributions).
Grossman and Preste did not become candidates until Jan. 10 and Jan. 8 respectively, around the time incumbent Robert Weinroth withdrew from the council race to run for County Commission. Mayotte opened a campaign finance account in October.
Similarly, Do became a candidate Dec. 27; Rodgers started his re-election account in July.
At the city’s first forum for this election, the candidates introduced themselves, answered questions and pleaded for votes. Comcast, AT&T U-verse and Hotwired are replaying the Feb. 8 session on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays before the vote, said the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowner Associations, which sponsored the event.
The federation also planned a “speed meet” session with the candidates for 8 a.m. March 6. And The Boca Raton Tribune scheduled a forum for 6 p.m. March 8 at the Wayne Barton Study Center, 269 NE 14th St.
Rodgers, a computer security expert at IBM and a cryptologic warfare officer in the Navy Reserves, said he seeks re-election to continue the work he has started as a council member.
“In my three years here, I’ve fought for limiting building heights, for controlling heights on the beach, protecting development rights on the beach, [and] not allowing our beach to be overrun by mansions,” Rodgers said. “I’ve fought for responsible growth in development. I’ve also really fought for the best use of your tax dollars — my tax dollars and your tax dollars.”
Rodgers wants to woo more corporate headquarters and entrepreneurial startups to Boca, partly because he knows his IBM job could end at any time. “I don’t want two or three or four places in this community where I can send my résumé. I want 10, 20, 30, 40, 50,” he said.
Do is a newcomer both to politics and to Boca Raton, having moved to the city in 2017. Born in Vietnam, Do came to the United States as a teenager in 1983. She is a certified public accountant and lawyer who began her career at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. Her two children attend Boca Raton Community Middle School.
“With all my CPA and my experience working in finance, I believe that adds a lot to making sure that your [tax] money is well-spent,” Do said.
Do said she entered the race when she realized Rodgers was unopposed. “No one should win by default,” she said. “I’m presenting you choices.”
Mayotte is a part-time sustainability specialist at JM Family Enterprises after having information technology stints there and at Burger King headquarters in Miami-Dade County. She also is a former chair of the city’s Green Living Advisory Board. She is endorsed by city firefighters, the police and council member Andrea O’Rourke.
“I won’t tax you more, and my technology background will help bring the kind of efficiencies and improvements that will keep our city on fiscal track. We should be working together more, residents and businesses, to move our community forward,” Mayotte said.
Grossman graduated in Florida Atlantic University’s inaugural class, then spent 30 years as a teacher and administrator in Miami-Dade schools. He won two terms to the Miami Springs City Council and more recently was president of the FAU Alumni Association, chairman of the FAU Foundation board and on the Palm Beach County Planning Commission. He has the endorsements of County Commissioner and former Mayor Steven Abrams, former Mayor Susan Whelchel and FAU coaching legend Howard Schnellenberger.
“I first came to Boca Raton 53 years ago, in 1965. I fell in love with South Florida in general and Boca Raton in particular, and I’ve had a longstanding love affair with the area,” Grossman said.
Preste, an internist with a medical practice and health-care delivery business in Fort Lauderdale, said the current City Council is too reactive.
“I would like to suggest that we at the council and mayoral level try to be and work at a more proactive level regarding our future plans for our wonderful city,” he said.
The mayor is paid $38,000 a year, while council members are paid $28,000 a year.