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St. Petersburg City Council proposes two charter amendments on elections

ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council proposed two charter amendments Thursday.

The first amendment could be called the Jamie Bennett law.

Right now, mayoral elections are held at the same time as the election of even numbered district representatives. So a council member who represents an odd numbered district must resign to run for mayor, requiring the remaining council members to appoint a successor.

If the council member wants his successor to be elected, however, the City Council must take a vote.

That's what happened when Bennett, who represents District 5, announced his intent to run for mayor earlier this year. Former council member Larry Williams also asked the City Council to allow voters to choose his successor when he resigned early to run for mayor in 2001.

If the proposed charter amendment passes, residents would automatically get to elect a new council member if their representative resigns prior to the qualifying period during a mayoral election year. The council would not have to take a vote, as they did in the Bennett and Williams situations.

A second charter amendment would allow the City Council to reschedule election dates that conflict with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office's schedule through an ordinance instead of a referendum. The city already does this. For example, the candidate qualifying deadline was tweaked slightly to accommodate the elections office's workload earlier this year.

This ordinance would simply allow the city to continue this policy if the state Legislature changes its election laws.

A public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6. If approved, the measures would appear on the November ballot.

St. Petersburg City Council proposes two charter amendments on elections 07/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 25, 2009 4:30am]
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