By Steve Plunkett
Andrea O’Rourke, who as president of the Golden Triangle Homeowners Association often criticized downtown development and traffic congestion as enemies to quality of life, plans to be “a voice of the residents” in her new seat on the City Council.
“I’m super excited, very hopeful, [and] looking into the future,” said O’Rourke, who replaced Deputy Mayor Michael Mullaugh on the dais.
O’Rourke outdueled Emily Gentile, secretary of the Beach Condominium Association, and Andy Thomson, a business litigation lawyer who grew up in the region and moved to Boca Raton in August. O’Rourke garnered 5,614 votes (48 percent) to Gentile’s 1,372 votes (12 percent) and Thomson’s 4,621 votes (40 percent) to win Seat B.
City voters March 14 also re-elected Mayor Susan Haynie and council member Scott Singer.
Haynie bested immigration lawyer and BocaWatch publisher Al Zucaro 6,452 votes to 5,311 votes (55-45 percent). Singer kept Seat A by collecting 8,095 votes to the 3,317 that went to Patty Dervishi of the Golden Triangle HOA (71-29 percent).
Turnout in Boca Raton was 18.5 percent, with one-third of the ballots cast by mail.
O’Rourke, 69, is the only council member who lives east of Dixie Highway. She resigned as editor of Zucaro’s BocaWatch website to run for office. Now she is studying the issues the city faces as she prepares for the council’s goal-setting sessions in May.
“It’s really hearing from the residents, hearing what their priorities are,” she said. “During the campaign, there was no question. Unequivocally, people are concerned about the traffic, the overdevelopment and the quality of life.”
O’Rourke, a graphic designer who moved to Boca Raton 37 years ago, said she is not coming in “to tear things up” and does not want residents speaking at the council podium after being surprised by development proposals.
“I’m looking for collaboration and open dialogue,” she said. “I want the residents involved first, before these things get to City Hall.”
Mullaugh, 76, was appointed to the council in December 2008 after Peter Baronoff resigned because of family health matters. A lawyer, Mullaugh managed a division of Mellon Bank’s trust department. After moving to the city in 1997, he was president of Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services in Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
Mullaugh was term-limited out of office after being elected without opposition in 2011 and defeating three challengers in 2014. He was chosen deputy mayor in March last year.
By Steve Plunkett