Capitol talk of shifting city election schedule has cities abuzz
State Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Fort Myers, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, is working on legislation that would change the timetable for city elections across Florida so that they are held only in November.
He said the pathetically low voter turnouts for city elections may be a result of the fact that they are held at various times of the year from city to city.
"Some are in March. Some are in May. Some are in November. They're all over the place," Caldwell said. "Increasing turnout is what I'm trying to do here."
The Florida League of Cities has raised a flurry of concerns about Caldwell's proposal, including whether it would make ballots even longer and might reduce voter turnouts in city elections.
Florida's 410 cities, towns and villages operate on many different schedules, and mayors and commissioners serve terms of two, three or four years.
Caldwell's proposal, still in draft form, would shift all municipal elections to November in odd-numbered years, which means all commissioners and mayors would have to serve two- or four-year terms. Fort Lauderdale has three-year terms for its city officials and some others do, too.
The proposal also calls for moving local referendum elections to November of any year for bond issues, libraries, annexations and the like. A memo by David Cruz, assistant general counsel for the League of Cities, said that would cause problems for cities because their fiscal year begins Oct. 1, forcing cities to guess a year in advance whether voters will pass a referendum -- "a practical improbability," Cruz said.