By Mary Hladky
The City Council wants to tighten rules so that candidates for mayor and the council must present proof that they have lived in the city for at least one year at the time of qualifying to run for office.
At present, a candidate is required to live in Boca Raton for only 30 days before qualifying and must simply sign an affidavit stating that without offering proof.
The council members also want to eliminate a qualifying fee. Instead, they would require candidates to submit petitions signed by at least 200 residents, which would indicate they have at least some supporters.
In addition, the council is changing the qualifying dates. Instead of qualifying during the first seven regular business days in January, candidates would qualify during the first seven regular business days in December so that the county supervisor of elections has adequate time to get candidate names on the March ballot.
The impetus for the proof of residency was the candidacies of Bernard Korn, a real estate broker who twice has lost elections to Mayor Scott Singer.
Questions about where Korn lived cropped up in both the 2018 and 2020 city elections. If he did not live in the city, he was not eligible to run.
In 2018, he gave an address at 720 Marble Way on the barrier island, a home owned by real estate broker Richard Vecchio. He also gave the supervisor of elections a mailing address of 19078 Skybridge Circle, a house far west of the city.
This year, he listed his address as a P.O. box at the city’s downtown post office.
Under changes the city wants to enact, candidates could prove where they live by submitting a voter’s registration card, driver’s license, recorded deed, property tax receipt, homestead exemption documentation, lease agreement or utility bill.
The City Council is expected to approve an ordinance in September that will set the one-year residency and proof of residency requirements and eliminate the qualifying fee. A person who had a homestead exemption for a home outside the city within one year of the start of qualifying would not meet the residency qualification.
The ordinance includes two proposed City Charter amendments specifying those changes that people would vote on in the March 9 city election. The changes would only be made if voters approve the charter amendments.
The new qualifying dates are being set in a second ordinance that the council also is expected to approve in September. No charter amendment is needed to change the dates.
Council member Jeremy Rodgers’ seat will be open in the March election; he is term-limited out of office. Fellow member Monica Mayotte’s seat will also be on the ballot; she will be ending her first term on the council. Ú