DADE CITY — Suspense, drama, confusion, dark humor, subtle innuendos, audience appreciation — the vote for mayor Tuesday featured all of the elements of satisfying theater.
In the end, a switched vote from Commissioner Bill Dennis kept Camille Hernandez in the post she's held for two years.
The mayoral drama began last month, when Hernandez and Commissioner Scott Black were sworn in for the four-year terms they won in the April 8 municipal election — Hernandez ran unopposed and Black soundly defeated opponent Angie Herrera, whose campaign was bankrolled by Hernandez's family.
Dennis was absent from the meeting, which caused a stalemate between Hernandez — nominated by Commissioner Jimmy Shive — and Black, nominated by Mayor Pro Tem Eunice Penix. Commissioners vote among themselves for mayor.
Penix again nominated Black on Tuesday, which he seconded, and Shive renominated Hernandez, which she seconded; this time, however, Hernandez tossed in a third candidate — Shive, who declined, saying he believes he has "more dues to pay" as a freshman commissioner.
Dennis, in position to break the tie, announced that he would not vote for either candidate.
When both nominations failed, City Attorney Karla Owens started the process again, asking for nominations. Penix nominated Black, who seconded it; Hernandez nominated Shive, which drew a second from Dennis; and Shive nominated Hernandez, but this time she declined to second his motion, apparently hoping to force a vote between Shive and Black. But Shive again withdrew, leaving Black as the only candidate.
Owens, noting the confusion, decided to start again.
"I just want it understood that if we can't get past this, there is nothing in the ordinance or charter that addresses this," she cautioned.
On the third round, it again came down to Hernandez and Black, and Dennis voted for Hernandez. Black congratulated Hernandez.