Boca Raton Mayors

The tiny farming village of Boca Raton functioned well without any sort of organized governing body in the early years of the twentieth century. From 1915 to 1924, the Board of Trade, a sort of Chamber of Commerce, was formed and succeeded in bringing telephone lines, paved roads, a bridge, a school, and other amenities to the area. Boca Raton was first incorporated in 1924, during the Florida land boom, with pioneer George Long serving as appointed mayor. The modern city of Boca Raton recognizes 1925 as its official date of incorporation, however, as the Florida legislature recognized the young community as a municipality in May of that year. It was not until 1957 that the town of Boca Raton became the city of Boca Raton. Some of Boca's mayors were elected outright; some were appointed by city council; all played a vital roll in the amazing growth from farm town to one of America's best known and desirous modern communities.

1924 1925 1926 1927 1928
1929 1930 1931 1932 1933
1934 1935 1936 1937 1938
1939 1940 1941 1942 1943
1944 1945 1946 1947 1948
1949 1950 1951 1952 1953
1954 1955 1956 1957 1958
1959 1960 1961 1962 1963
1964 1965 1966 1967 1968
1969 1970 1971 1972 1973
1974 1975 1976 1977 1978
1979 1980 1981 1982 1983
1984 1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

 

Mayor George Long
Term: August 1924 – June 1925
Occupation: Engineer

George Long was Boca Raton's first appointed mayor. He was a Harvard graduate, originally from Boston, who was lured to Boca Raton by Captain Thomas Moore Rickards. Mr. Long's son, F. Vinton, was the first white child born in the settlement.

George Long replaced Rickards as the local representative for the Florida East Coast Land Department. He also served as postmaster and county commissioner and was instrumental in extending Ocean Boulevard northward to connect with Delray Beach.

Long's devotion to Boca Raton was unceasing and when he died in 1929 his funeral was held in the council chamber at Town Hall, the only funeral ever held there.

 

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Mayor John Brown
Term: June 1925 - November 1929
Occupations: Construction, Truck Farming

A Florida native, John Grover Brown was the city's first elected mayor. He and his brother, Charlie, followed other family members from Kissimmee to Boca Raton in 1912.

Brown's term of office coincided with the land boom and listed among his accomplishments are the establishment of a water system, the building of Town Hall, and the purchase of a fire truck. Brown eventually clashed with Clarence Geist over a new charter and blamed Geist when he lost his bid for re-election.

 

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Mayor Fred Aiken
Term: November 1929 - July 1938
Occupations: Business Owner, Entertainment Industry

When Fred C. Aiken's camera factory in Wisconsin was purchased by Sears Roebuck, he joined Mr. Roebuck in the motion picture business. Aiken resigned an executive position to move to Boca Raton in 1928 and enter politics.

Aiken was elected mayor three times, serving for nearly ten years. He resigned to become city clerk and served in that capacity until 1948.

 

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Mayor Joe Mitchell
Term: July 1938 - February 1950
Occupation: Real Estate

Jonas Cleveland Mitchell moved from Alabama to Boca Raton in 1923 to develop land purchased by his in-laws from Harley Gates. His real estate business expanded as did his civic activities. He finished Aiken's term as mayor and was subsequently elected to the post in general elections.

Mayor Mitchell was faced not only with an economy struggling to recover from the depression, but with a pending world war. As a way to return prosperity to the area, he went to Washington to lobby successfully for a military base to be located in Boca Raton. Mitchell was equally successful after the war ended in having the air base lands returned to Boca Raton's tax roll.

 

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Mayor Bill O'Donnell
Term: March 1950 - September 1951
Occupation: Physician

Originally from Vermont, William G. O'Donnell accepted a seasonal position as house physician at the Boca Raton Club. After serving in the military, he and his wife moved to Boca Raton to become the city's first permanent doctor.

Active in civic affairs, O'Donnell was elected to a two-year term as mayor. As mayor, he sponsored a new charter which stipulated that the position of mayor would go to the councilman with the most votes. The charter was approved, effectively terminating O'Donnell's tenure.

 

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Mayor Louie Zimmerman
Term: September 1951 - February 1952
Occupation: Construction

Mr. Louis A. Zimmerman was born in Minnesota. His construction business eventually brought him to Boca Raton where he built and remodeled numerous commercial and residential structures. Zimmerman was an organizer and board member of First Bank and Trust.

Although Zimmerman was only mayor for five months, he served on city council until 1956.

 

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Mayor Bill Day
Terms: March 1952 - February 1953, March 1954 - November 1954

William S. Day was born in Connecticut. He came to Boca Raton to pursue a career in real estate, but his resume included such unusual occupations as carnival barker and manufacturer of hospital gowns.

Mayor Day was a colorful and popular figure in Boca Raton for many years, sporting a flower in his buttonhole and a white fedora at public functions. He was as well known as grand marshall for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade as for his mayoral accomplishments.

 

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Mayor Harold Turner
Terms: March 1953 - February 1954,December 1954 - November 1955
Occupation: Landscaping

Harold A. Turner and his family came to Boca Raton from the Jacksonville area. They made their home in the Administration Building owned by the Boca Raton Club, and he went to work at the club as landscape superintendent. He later opened Boca Raton's first nursery.

As mayor, Turner was influential in Eleanor Sanborn's decision to deed the land for Sanborn Square to the City. Turner's company donated the landscape design for the park and furnished the labor at cost.

After his tenure as mayor, Turner served on the Palm Beach County School Board where he was instrumental in securing land for the Boca Raton Community High School.

 

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Mayor Bill Day
Terms: March 1952 - February 1953, March 1954 - November 1954

William S. Day was born in Connecticut. He came to Boca Raton to pursue a career in real estate, but his resume included such unusual occupations as carnival barker and manufacturer of hospital gowns.

Mayor Day was a colorful and popular figure in Boca Raton for many years, sporting a flower in his buttonhole and a white fedora at public functions. He was as well known as grand marshall for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade as for his mayoral accomplishments.

 

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Mayor Harold Turner
Terms: March 1953 - February 1954,December 1954 - November 1955
Occupation: Landscaping

Harold A. Turner and his family came to Boca Raton from the Jacksonville area. They made their home in the Administration Building owned by the Boca Raton Club, and he went to work at the club as landscape superintendent. He later opened Boca Raton's first nursery.

As mayor, Turner was influential in Eleanor Sanborn's decision to deed the land for Sanborn Square to the City. Turner's company donated the landscape design for the park and furnished the labor at cost.

After his tenure as mayor, Turner served on the Palm Beach County School Board where he was instrumental in securing land for the Boca Raton Community High School.

 

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Mayor Bill Herbold
Term: December 1955 - November 1956
Occupation:Contractor

William O. Herbold was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Boca Raton in 1945. One of his first duties as mayor was to pay off and burn the municipal bonds. Other accomplishments during his tenure included the cleaning of Boca Inlet, the boat ramp at Silver Palm Park, and the sale of Boca Raton water to Highland Beach.

 

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Mayor Roy Shores
Term: December 1956 - February 1958
Occupations: Business, Real Estate

Originally from New Jersey, John Leroy Shores bought and operated a laundry at the corner of Boca Raton Road and Northeast First Avenue. He later went into real estate.

As mayor, Shores recommended that all objections or complaints to the council must be signed and channeled through the office of town clerk, thus "much bickering and wasted time at council meetings will be eliminated."

 

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Mayor Hal Dane
Term: March 1958 - February 1959
Occupations: Farming, Business

Harold John Dane left his Iowa farm to his sons and moved to Boca Raton in 1955.

While in office Dane refurbished the sewage disposal plant at the old air field for use by the city and participated in the organization of the Boca Raton Kiwanis Club. Dane departed from city politics on a less than ideal note. He chided "the (majority) bloc for allegedly usurping the city manager's authority, causing a rift … between the fire and police departments, voting the commission a pay hike ($100 to $150 per month) and overspending the budget."

 

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Mayor Joe Delong
Terms: March 1959 - February 1960,March 1963 - February 1964
Occupation:Government

Joe Delong began his lifelong career in public service in his home state of New Jersey. He retired to Florida in 1950 only to find himself back in politics due to the "dire need of experience in government in Boca Raton."

Known as the man with the bow tie, a deep tan, and a stogie, Joe Delong often continued his office hours at the bowling alley after 4:00 p.m. He was a very aggressive politician and is credited with much of the city's growth during his terms.

 

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Mayor Courtney Boone
Term: March 1960 – February 1961
Occupation: Construction

As a boy growing up in Indiana, Courtney C. Boone was told that he was a descendent of Daniel Boone. He and his wife moved to Boca Raton in 1947 to escape the northern winters.

Boone went from the construction business to the mayor's office with no political experience. He served in a period of extremely accelerated growth and identified four key goals for his administration. One of those goals achieved during his term was the establishment of a university at the site of the former Boca Raton Army Airfield.

 

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Mayor Leo Fox
Term: March 1961 – February 1962
Occupation: Lawyer

Born in Wisconsin, Leo J. Fox moved to Boca Raton in 1957 to practice law.

During his term the beach acquisition program was initiated and recreational facilities were established in Pearl City. Fox also participated in efforts to locate the university at the old airfield.

 

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Mayor John Brandt
Term: March 1962 – February 1963
Occupation: Registered Pharmacist

A New Jersey native, John Brandt operated his own pharmacy on Long Island for sixteen years. While living in the north, he was involved in various aspects of public service.

After retiring to Boca Raton in 1958, he continued in government service by running for mayor. The actual groundbreaking for Florida Atlantic University took place during Brandt's term, as did construction of the new city hall.


 

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Mayor Joe Delong
Terms: March 1959 - February 1960, March 1963 - February 1964
Occupation:Government

Joe Delong began his lifelong career in public service in his home state of New Jersey. He retired to Florida in 1950 only to find himself back in politics due to the "dire need of experience in government in Boca Raton."

Known as the man with the bow tie, a deep tan, and a stogie, Joe Delong often continued his office hours at the bowling alley after 4:00 p.m. He was a very aggressive politician and is credited with much of the city's growth during his terms.

 

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Mayor Harold Maull
Terms: March 1964 - February 1965, March 1968 - February 1969
Occupation: Colonel, USAF Ret.

Col. Harold V. Maull was born in Delaware. He had purchased a home in Boca Raton while still in the military and retired here in 1962.

Maull served two very active terms as mayor of Boca Raton. Among his more lasting accomplishments were a sign ordinance eliminating billboards in the city, the creation of a Community Appearance Board, and underground utilities in all new subdivisions.

 

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Mayor Pat Honchell
Term: March 1966 – February 1967
Occupation: Lawyer

From a large family in Indiana, Robert I. Honchell came to Boca Raton in 1956 by way of Washington, D.C. to enter into a law practice. He served five consecutive terms (ten years) on city council.

During his term as mayor, the ordinance establishing the Community Appearance Board was adopted. This was thought by many to be the most significant legislation regulating Boca Raton's overall appearance. Under his direction the city assumed ownership of the library, establishing the city's first public library, and started construction on the city tennis courts.

 

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Mayor Nardy Turner
Term: March 1967 - February 1968
Occupation: Landscape Architect

A Florida native, Bernard E. Turner moved to Boca Raton from McClenny, Florida in 1936. He was a partner in a nursery business with his father and brother.

Turner's administration was effective in raising building code standards to include larger lot sizes, increased square footage of houses, and stricter set-back requirements for high-rises. In addressing the issue of civil rights, Turner declared that Boca Raton was unlikely to experience disorder because "all public facilities are open to all."

 

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Mayor Harold Maull
Terms: March 1964 - February 1965, March 1968 - February 1969
Occupation: Colonel, USAF Ret.

Col. Harold V. Maull was born in Delaware. He had purchased a home in Boca Raton while still in the military and retired here in 1962.

Maull served two very active terms as mayor of Boca Raton. Among his more lasting accomplishments were a sign ordinance eliminating billboards in the city, the creation of a Community Appearance Board, and underground utilities in all new subdivisions.

 

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Emil Danciu
Terms: March 1969 - February 1970, March 1987 - March 1993
Occupations: Contractor, Restaurateur

Emil F. Danciu and his family moved to Boca Raton from Ohio to join other family members. He was well known both as mayor and for the popular restaurants which his family owned and operated.

During his first term Danciu was the youngest person to hold the office of mayor of Boca Raton. He was a dedicated family man and considered "being a city father a natural extension of our family life." Such accomplishments as the dedication of Spanish River Park, acquiring acreage for the municipal golf course, and obtaining baseball equipment and lights for baseball fields reflect his recreational interests.

 

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Mayor Tore Wallin
Term: March 1970 - February 1971
Occupation: Engineer

Tore Wallin was born in Sweden and retired to Boca Raton in 1963. He recalls that when he became excited, his Swedish brogue would come on strong to the friendly amusement of the public and fellow members of council. Mr. Wallin retired to Boca Raton in 1963.

Having served on the planning and zoning board for six years, Wallin was very much concerned with community appearance. As mayor he took steps to prevent Boca Raton from becoming a "concrete jungle", controlled density of multifamily housing, limited the placement of gasoline stations, and toughened the requirements for auto and boat display and storage. Wallin also is credited with establishing the Community Appearance Board.

 

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Mayor Norm Wymbs
Term: March 1971 - September 1971
Occupation: Private Investments

A native of New Jersey, business interests brought Norman E. Wymbs to Boca Raton in 1963. Wymbs credits his rise from obscurity to the mayor's office to a mail campaign in which he explained his dissatisfaction with local government.

During his term, Wymbs was involved in major beach acquisitions and expansion of the sanitary sewer system. His administration was fraught with controversy and criticism and Wymbs was voted out of office before completing his term.

 

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Mayor Bill Miller
Term: September 1971 - February 1972
Occupation:Unknown

William F. Miller was elected by city council to complete the term of Norman Wymbs. His goal was to unite council members for the common good of the community. Miller felt they needed to "look on the positive side and see what this council can really accomplish without dragging personalities into it."

 

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Mayor Byrd Marshall
Terms: March 1972 - February 1973, March 1975 - February 1976, March 1978 - December 1978
Occupation:CPA

Born in Graceville, Florida, Byrd F. Marshall moved to Boca Raton in 1960. His experience in financial planning led him to seek a seat on city council, on the basis of the city's need for long range financial planning.

It was during Marshall's administration that the controversial growth cap was put to a vote. Marshall orchestrated long range financial planning and land use planning for the city.

 

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Mayor Al Alford
Term: March 1973 - February 1974
Occupation: Financial Planner

Alan C. Alford was born in New York. He and his wife elected to reside in Boca Raton after graduating from the University of Miami.

Alford began his public service as Boca Raton's city manager. He saw Boca Raton as a city that addressed future needs in the areas of utility construction, park acquisitions, and park development.

 

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Mayor Dick Houpana
Terms: March 1974 - February 1975 ,March 1977
Occupation: IBM

A New York State native, Richard O. Houpana was transferred to Boca Raton in 1967 to participate in starting up the IBM operation here. During his first term as mayor, Houpana was employed full-time with IBM and operating a 12-unit apartment building.

Houpana's first administration was characterized by the controversy between city pro-growth and controlled-growth factions. He resigned his office one month into his second term.

 

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Mayor Byrd Marshall
Terms: March 1972 - February 1973, March 1975 - February 1976, March 1978 - December 1978
Occupation:CPA

Born in Graceville, Florida, Byrd F. Marshall moved to Boca Raton in 1960. His experience in financial planning led him to seek a seat on city council, on the basis of the city's need for long range financial planning.

It was during Marshall's administration that the controversial growth cap was put to a vote. Marshall orchestrated long range financial planning and land use planning for the city.

 

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Mayor Dorothy Wilken
Terms: March 1976 - February 1977,April 1977
Occupations: Graphics Department, County Commissioner

Dorothy H. Wilken, born in Pennsylvania, moved to Boca Raton in 1965 to work at FAU. Dorothy's claim to be the first woman elected to the council is disputed by the city minutes which indicate that Floy Mitchell served briefly in that capacity. However, Ms. Wilken was definitely the first woman to serve as mayor of Boca Raton.

While in office Ms. Wilken dealt with such issues as growth management for the city, establishment of park impact fees, the purchase of South Inlet Beach, and topless sun bathers. Wilken was one of the originators of the Citizens for Reasonable Growth, which became a strong support base for her.

 

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Mayor Dick Houpana
Terms: March 1974 - February 1975 ,March 1977
Occupation: IBM

A New York State native, Richard O. Houpana was transferred to Boca Raton in 1967 to participate in starting up the IBM operation here. During his first term as mayor, Houpana was employed full-time with IBM and operating a 12-unit apartment building.

Houpana's first administration was characterized by the controversy between city pro-growth and controlled-growth factions. He resigned his office one month into his second term.

 

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Mayor Dorothy Wilken
Terms: March 1976 - February 1977,April 1977
Occupations: Graphics Department, County Commissioner

Dorothy H. Wilken, born in Pennsylvania, moved to Boca Raton in 1965 to work at FAU. Dorothy's claim to be the first woman elected to the council is disputed by the city minutes which indicate that Floy Mitchell served briefly in that capacity. However, Ms. Wilken was definitely the first woman to serve as mayor of Boca Raton.

While in office Ms. Wilken dealt with such issues as growth management for the city, establishment of park impact fees, the purchase of South Inlet Beach, and topless sun bathers. Wilken was one of the originators of the Citizens for Reasonable Growth, which became a strong support base for her.

 

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Mayor Jeff Milner
Terms: May 1977 - February 1978, January 1979 – March 1981
Memoirs: by Jeff Milner

Jeff Milner moved from his home state of Georgia to Boca Raton in 1971, transferred by Southern Bell.

During his term, Dixie Manors apartment complex in Pearl City was acquired by eminent domain for conversion from a slum to low cost housing. Bond issues to expand the water and sewer system, city hall, and the library were passed. The city also adopted a new comprehensive plan during his term.

 

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Mayor Byrd Marshall
Terms: March 1972 - February 1973, March 1975 - February 1976, March 1978 - December 1978
Occupation:CPA

Born in Graceville, Florida, Byrd F. Marshall moved to Boca Raton in 1960. His experience in financial planning led him to seek a seat on city council, on the basis of the city's need for long range financial planning.

It was during Marshall's administration that the controversial growth cap was put to a vote. Marshall orchestrated long range financial planning and land use planning for the city.

 

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Mayor Jeff Milner
Terms: May 1977 - February 1978, January 1979 – March 1981
Memoirs: by Jeff Milner

Jeff Milner moved from his home state of Georgia to Boca Raton in 1971, transferred by Southern Bell.

During his term, Dixie Manors apartment complex in Pearl City was acquired by eminent domain for conversion from a slum to low cost housing. Bond issues to expand the water and sewer system, city hall, and the library were passed. The city also adopted a new comprehensive plan during his term.

 

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Mayor Bill Konrad
Terms: April 1981 - March 1987
Occupation: Petroleum Executive

Originally from New Jersey, William A. Konrad left London to retire in Boca Raton in 1975. Konrad quickly became involved in city government and issues, beginning as a member of the Environmental Development and Zoning Advisory Board and culminating in three terms as mayor.

Konrad's six years in office were characterized by the city's marked growth, comprehensive planning and fiscal strength. He observes that, unlike other U.S. cities known in the '70s for their growth control efforts, Boca Raton was successful because they did not stifle growth. Instead, they accepted the type of growth that would best serve the city's purposes.

 

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Emil Danciu
Terms: March 1969 - February 1970, March 1987 - March 1993
Occupations: Contractor, Restaurateur

Emil F. Danciu and his family moved to Boca Raton from Ohio to join other family members. He was well known both as mayor and for the popular restaurants which his family owned and operated.

During his first term Danciu was the youngest person to hold the office of mayor of Boca Raton. He was a dedicated family man and considered "being a city father a natural extension of our family life." Such accomplishments as the dedication of Spanish River Park, acquiring acreage for the municipal golf course, and obtaining baseball equipment and lights for baseball fields reflect his recreational interests.

 

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Mayor Bill Smith
Term: April 1993 - March 1995
Occupation: Lawyer

A native of Florida, Smith moved with his parents to Boca Raton at four years of age. He attended local schools, and entered city government as a council member in 1987. He served as chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency in 1992.

During his eight years of service to the city he helped acquire parks, established term limitations, and implemented beach re-nourishment programs. He also created "Mayor Smith's Private Sector Survey," a large volunteer force that resulted in a $50 million taxpayer savings.

 

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Mayor Carol Hanson
Terms: April 1995 – March 2001

A New York State native, Carol G. Hanson moved to Boca Raton in 1960 from Hollywood, Florida. Hanson entered city government as a council member in 1979 -1982. She was elected State Representative from District 87 and served from 1982 -1994. In 1995 Hanson returned to city government as mayor.

Hanson's involvement in public offices were many, with her main interests being the purchase of sensitive lands, continued dedication to maintaining quality of life in Boca Raton, and the opening of Westside City Hall Annex to name a few.

 

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Mayor Steven Abrams
Term: April 2001 – March 2008
Occupation: Lawyer

A native Iowan, Steven Abrams moved to Boca Raton in 1985, quickly becoming active in governmental activities through participation on the planning and zoning board and as city council member. He served as deputy mayor for three years before being elected mayor in 2001.

Mayor Abrams has strived to build consensus on the city council, often marked by contention and division in the recent past. He deftly lead the city through one of its most challenging and infamous incidences, when the AMI Building was one of four in the U.S. to be infected with anthrax virus following the September 11th attacks in 2001. A popular leader, Abrams is well known in the community, attending groundbreakings, meetings, concerts, and retirements ceremonies with equal élan.

 

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Mayor Susan Whelchel
Term: April 2008 - present

Born and raised in north Florida, Susan Whelchel has lived in Boca Raton for more than thirty years. Mayor Whelchel was first elected to the City Council in 1995, serving until 2000. She was again elected to the City Council in 2003 and elected mayor in 2008.

During her fifteen years in local government, Mayor Whelchel has been recognized as a strong supporter of the arts and a friend to the non-profit community. An advocate for children and education, she is responsible for bringing Don Estridge High Tech Middle School to the historic IBM campus in Boca Raton. As she embarks on her first mayoral term, Whelchel has initiated a business development strategy to maintain and promote a vibrant city economy and is at the forefront of the movement towards a green and sustainable community.

 

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