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Yes on St. Petersburg City Charter Amendments 1 and 2

Charter Amendment 1: The ballot question asks, "Shall the City Charter be amended to provide for a consistent procedure for the filling of vacancies on the City Council regardless of the council member's district or the reason for the vacancy?"

Under the current charter, the procedure to fill a vacancy caused by resignation varies depending on when the council member resigns and which district the member represents.

If a council member who represents an even-numbered district resigns — to run for mayor, for example — remaining City Council members may appoint someone to fill the seat. But if a council member from an odd-numbered district resigns to run for mayor, voters choose the replacement in the next election.

That charter inconsistency was spotlighted when Larry Williams resigned to run for mayor in 2001 and when Jamie Bennett resigned to run for mayor this year. Both men wanted the voters, not the council, to choose their replacements.

The proposed charter amendment would erase those inconsistencies by creating a new procedure for filling vacancies when a member resigns from office.

If a council member submitted his resignation before the beginning of the candidate qualifying period for that year's city election, the replacement would be chosen by voters in that election. If he submitted his resignation after the qualifying period began and his district would be without representation for more than 50 days, the council would appoint a replacement to serve until the next scheduled city election.

It is important to have a consistent process that addresses all potential situations. On Charter Amendment 1, the Times recommends a yes vote.

Charter Amendment 2: The city charter spells out when city elections should be held. But what if the county supervisor of elections cannot conduct the election when the city charter dictates?

This ballot question, if approved, would place in the charter the authority for the City Council to change the election date by ordinance. State law already provides that authority, according to City Attorney John Wolfe, but the city charter language is vague and could be construed to require an expensive public referendum before the date could be changed.

On Charter Amendment 2, the Times recommends a yes vote.

Yes on St. Petersburg City Charter Amendments 1 and 2 10/18/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 18, 2009 4:30am]
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