Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Politics

Raulerson makes tearful farewell to commission

With friends and his wife, Shirley, in the audience, Dan Raulerson made a tearful farewell to fellow commissioners Monday night, ending a five-year run on Plant City's City Commission, including two years as mayor.

Raulerson resigned his commission seat to run for the newly created state House District 58 seat. Monday's commission meeting was his last before the Nov. 6 general election.

Commissioners now await the results of a ballot question in November to determine whether Raulerson's vacancy on the five-member commission can be filled by appointment rather than special election as called for under the city's charter.

If the ballot question passes, Mayor Michael Sparkman said the commission might move to appoint Raulerson's successor as early as its next meeting, Nov. 13.

Commissioners are backing the ballot question, saying the special election requirement is burdensome and costly to the city. It forces prospective commissioners to mount back-to-back campaigns, first for the special election and then the general election. The city's cost for the special election would run about $15,000.

Citing costs, several Florida cities have turned to appointments in recent years, including Tampa and Tallahassee. Watchdog groups are divided on the practice. Some say filling vacancies by appointment is a valid stop-gap until the general election. Others argue it circumvents the democratic process.

Rich Shopes, Times staff writer

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