Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough mayor proposal argued at court hearing

TAMPA — This we know: There is no way Hillsborough County voters will decide, on the same day, whether to create the position of county mayor and choose someone for the job.

But that's how a proposed county charter amendment reads, and that's a problem.

For now, a Hillsborough circuit judge has ordered the county mayor referendum removed from the Nov. 4 ballot.

Whether it comes back depends on the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

It should, said Barry Richard, a Tallahassee attorney for Elected County Mayor Political Committee Inc.

"The voter is not being misled in any way," he said during a hearing Thursday.

No, it shouldn't, said Jennifer Blohm, a Tallahassee attorney for activist James E. Shirk, who sued to block the referendum.

"The people who were signing this thought it was going to be on the November 2006 ballot," Blohm told a three-judge panel.

Supporters of a county mayor began circulating petitions to hold a referendum in 2006.

But Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson's office said the group fell short of the number of signatures needed to schedule the referendum.

Johnson later said supporters could continue collecting signatures until they reached the number they needed. And he said in 2006 that the county mayor question could be placed on the ballot in 2008.

Trouble is, the charter amendment summary said the county mayor would be elected in even-numbered years beginning in 2008. And that language carried over from 2006 to this year.

After Circuit Judge James D. Arnold ruled the amendment invalid because of that problem, supporters appealed.

During a hearing Thursday, Richard said the central question isn't whether the amendment mentions a mayor's race in 2008. It's whether Hillsborough voters want to change their form of government.

And the ballot question clearly concerns whether to go from having an appointed county administrator to a nonpartisan, elected mayor, Richard said.

"They know it can't begin before it gets adopted," he said.

But presiding Judge Darryl C. Casanueva noted the Florida Supreme Court has warned parties in the past to "be careful about what you put in" ballot initiatives, especially when it comes to dates.

"The date might be important if it affects a critical component of the amendment," Richard said, but it doesn't. The petition, he said, ought to be read that the new county mayor would be elected at "the next general election at which it can be placed on the ballot."

Blohm contended that passing the amendment would create a "hole" in county government.

The amendment would eliminate the county administrator's job, she said, but no county mayor would be elected.

"It gives an exact date when the transfer was supposed to happen, and it can't happen," she said.

Judges didn't say when they would rule, but attorneys for Johnson hope for a decision by Sept. 10 so they can print ballots and mail them to absentee voters who live overseas.

Hillsborough mayor proposal argued at court hearing 09/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2008 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  4. Hernando sheriff: Orlando mother turns in 18-year-old son in pawn shop burglary


    Times Staff Writer

    SPRING HILL — Hernando deputies have arrested a fourth person in connection with a pawn shop burglary, but they really didn't have to do anything to find him.

    Elijah Pickard, 18, of Orlando, was turned in by his own mother in connection with a pawn shop burglary, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office [Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]