By Mary Hladky

Andy Thomson easily reclaimed a Boca Raton City Council seat on election night, capturing 62.5% of the vote to defeat opponent Brian Stenberg.

Thomson, senior counsel at the Baritz & Colman law firm in Boca Raton and an adjunct professor at Florida Atlantic University teaching local and state government, resigned from the council in 2022 to pursue his unsuccessful candidacy for the Florida House District 91 seat now held by Peggy Gossett-Seidman.

After losing that race, Thomson said he would seek elected office again and ultimately decided on a run for Boca Council Seat D to replace term-limited Deputy Mayor Monica Mayotte.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be entrusted with this,” Thomson said at his campaign party at Maggiano’s restaurant. “I have served on the City Council before, but I take the duties very seriously and I am honored that the city would have me back in that way.”

Thomson received far more campaign donations than any of the other candidates, bringing in $133,604, as well as the longest list of endorsements.

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Also victorious in the March 19 election was incumbent Yvette Drucker, who claimed Seat C by winning 77% of the vote and trouncing perennial candidate Bernard Korn.

While the election held no surprises, it did signify a notable shift. With Mayotte, who lives in the eastern part of the city near downtown, departing the dais, all five council members live west of Interstate 95.

Stenberg made sure voters knew that he lived in Boca Square in the eastern part of the city and told them he would bring that perspective with him to the council if he prevailed at the polls.

A partner in the Greenfield Properties medical office real estate management firm, Stenberg was making his second bid to serve on the council after Mayotte defeated him in 2021.

Stenberg congratulated Thomson at his party at Duffy’s restaurant. “I wish him the best. I wish the best to the city of Boca Raton,” he said.

He did not rule out another race for a council seat. “There is a disconnect between what happens at City Council and what citizens expect of their city,” he said. “I would like to make sure we don’t have that disconnect.”

Stenberg said he did not seek endorsements and raised $16,709, with about a quarter of that coming from personal loans to his campaign. He relied on reaching out to voters directly and through volunteers.

Stenberg drew support in mid-March from the BocaFirst blog, which, without mentioning him by name, called him the “resident advocate candidate” in the mold of former Deputy

Mayor Andrea O’Rourke. An east Boca Raton resident, she stressed being “resident friendly” and opposed to overdevelopment.

City development has long been an issue in campaigns as the number of residents has reached nearly 100,000, construction projects have sprouted citywide, and traffic snarls streets.

In their campaigns, both Thomson and Stenberg offered carefully crafted views on development, with Thomson saying growth should be managed responsibly, and Stenberg calling for “respectful growth” that avoids overdevelopment.

Drucker, who raised $61,463 in campaign donations, is a first-generation Cuban American and the first Hispanic to serve on the council. She is a longtime volunteer with many organizations, including the Junior League of Boca Raton.

Drucker has made improving transportation and mobility a top priority and promised to continue that work during her second term.
Although dubious when council members asked her to represent them on the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency, she is now passionate about the subject.

Drucker is on the TPA’s executive board and was recently appointed to the National League of Cities Transportation and Infrastructure Services Federal Advocacy Committee.

Korn, a real estate broker, self-financed his campaign with $5,550. He has twice lost elections to Mayor Scott Singer and once before to Drucker. But he did attract more votes this time, getting 23% of the total compared with 4.9% in his 2021 race against Drucker.

In the most recent campaign, Korn said his top priority was to end “uncontrolled development.” He also railed against what he said was political corruption in the city and among council members without offering factual evidence.

Korn repeatedly asked residents to file complaints with the state against Drucker, contending she had violated ethics rules, even though there was no basis for that allegation.

“It was a wonderful result for this campaign,” Drucker said of her victory, “but also to win by such a margin after the attacks by my opponent. The best is yet to come.”

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