District 5 seat might be up for grabs in 2009
ST. PETERSBURG -- Officials are angling to create a legal exemption that would open an extra City Council seat for the November 2009 election.
Council Chairman Jamie Bennett, whose terms is up in 2012, has asked City Attorney John Wolfe to help him bypass the council appointment process and get the District 5 seat on the ballot.
Bennett must resign to run for mayor, but he doesn't want to resign before he has to or allow his council colleagues to pick his successor.
That's impossible under the City Charter, which states that Bennett must resign by May 30 so that voters can select a new representative. In that scenario, the council would appoint someone to temporarily fill Bennett's seat until the newly elected District 5 council member takes office in January 2010, said Wolfe.
If Bennett resigned after May 30, the council would appoint someone to the seat until the term is up in January 2012, Wolfe said.
For Bennett to get his way, the council would have to pass an exemption similar to a 2000 ordinance that allowed voters to replace Bennett's predecessor, Larry Williams, when he resigned to run for mayor.
Wolfe said he is working on a draft that could go before the council soon. If approved, five council positions would be up for election in November.
Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer