In one corner: a candidate who doesn’t live in the Broward County district she’s seeking to represent. In the other: a candidate who, records show, has lived in Broward for years — even when he was an elected official in Palm Beach County.
Welcome to the 96th Florida House of Representatives district, which includes parts of Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate and Parkland. Current state Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, can’t run again next year because of term limits.
Enter Kristin Jacobs and Steven Perman, two Democrats running for their party’s nomination to succeed Waldman. The winner of the August primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic district is virtually guaranteed to go to Tallahassee.
Jacobs, a Broward commissioner who is currently serving a one-year term in the largely ceremonial post of county mayor, can’t run for re-election because of term limits. The longtime Pompano Beach resident doesn’t live in the 96th district.
Perman served one term as a Palm Beach County state representative from November 2010 through November 2012. He used the address of his chiropractic office west of Boca Raton for campaign paperwork in each of his four Palm Beach County campaigns.
Government records show Perman bought his home and registered to vote in Broward in 1994. He switched his voter registration to Palm Beach County, but maintained the homestead exemption on his Coral Springs home during 2011 and 2012, when he was a Palm Beach County legislator.
He filed paperwork to relinquish the Broward homestead exemption just before the August 2012 primary, which he lost. He filed to get back on the homestead exemption rolls in Broward in November 2012 as his term in Tallahassee was ending and he began preparing to run for the Broward seat.
Perman said he doesn’t think the question of where he lived when he was a state representative from Palm Beach County will be an issue in the current campaign.
“My wife and I have owned our home in Coral Springs for 19 years. When I served in the Legislature representing then-District 78, I established a legal residency for myself in West Boca. I rented an apartment where I did live. You can ask my neighbors. I was there,” Perman said.
He said his previous term was before the heightened scrutiny bloggers and news outlets are giving this year to legislators’ residency.
“I think there’s been a heightened sensitivity,” he said. “At the time I ran for office, there seemed to be less sensitivity to residency and now I believe the sensitivity to that has been greatly enhanced and magnified…. “There seemed to be not as great a scrutiny as we’re seeing now.”
He said he’ll concentrate on explaining his record of getting things done in Tallahassee, where Democrats are in the minority.
Jacobs said she’s represented most of the District 96 territory on the Broward Commission for years, and said she’d move there if she wins. Such an approach would allow her to see what happens in the primary; if she loses, she wouldn’t have to move.
She said Perman “lived in Broward the whole time” he represented Palm Beach County, but said she doesn’t think residency questions will be a big deal in their contest.
“I think there are greater issues. What I would want to know from my opponent is: How did you vote on vouchers? How do you did you vote on vouchers. How do you stand for Democratic principles? That’s what this discussion should be about. Not where we’re living,” Jacobs said. Perman said he’ll concentrate on explaining his record of getting things done in Tallahassee, where Democrats are in the minority.
Jacobs has another residency twist: her address isn’t shown on the State Division of Elections website.
Unlike every other Broward legislative candidate, the state lists only asterisks where the address would normally go. A spokesman for the Division of Elections said Jacobs asked that her address be redacted from public records, something that’s granted for specialized reasons, such as judges or state attorneys who have security concerns.
Jacobs said she never made such a request, has never tried to hide where she lives, didn’t know her address wasn’t on the state website, and said she’d try to figure out why it was redacted and change it.
And there’s yet another residency note: Until district boundaries were changed last year, Waldman – the man Jacobs and Perman are vying to succeed – faced his own questions.
In 2008, the Sun Sentinel reported that Waldman owned a $920,000 house on nearly four acres outside his district but claimed to actually live in a 920-square-foot condo in the district, where he rented a bedroom for $250 a month.