Town attorney David Persson isn’t satisfied with the latest interpretation of term limits, which allowed former Mayor Lee Rothenberg to run for an additional two-year term this month.
In a letter sent to the Town Commission dated March 18, Persson explains that “multiple interpretations (of the commission’s term-limit policy) lead to uncertainty about the qualifications for the office of town commissioner.”
The commission approved by a 5-2 vote at its Dec. 7 regular meeting a resolution that allows commissioners to serve three consecutive two-year terms, plus any time served as a partial term limit for being appointed.
The move allowed Rothenberg, who was scheduled to vacate office in March 2010 after serving what he thought was the end of his three terms in office, to run for another term again this year. The former mayor served a partial term starting in October 2004 and then was forced to run for his District 1 seat in March 2005 for the one-year remainder left in the term.
It’s not the first time the interpretation of term limits has been modified.
The commission adopted a resolution in 2006 that allowed former Commissioner Peter O’Connor to finish out two months of a partial term without affecting his ability to run for three consecutive two-year terms once his partial term ended.
Persson crafted the resolution after O’Connor expressed a desire to fill the partial term as long as it didn’t count against his future full terms.
The resolution, however, that was adopted in December now allows commissioners to serve the remainder of a partial term and still be eligible for three consecutive two-year terms once the partial term expires.
Persson told the commission it may interpret, but it cannot change, the town charter without a vote of the electorate.
Wrote Persson: “I respectfully ask that the Town Commission direct that a charter amendment be drafted, which would clarify what is meant by ‘three consecutive terms.’ The goal would be to provide certainty to both the electorate and future commissions as to how these provisions would apply to partial terms.”
Any future amendment would be brought back to a workshop for consideration and could be placed on a future election ballot.
New Commissioners Feel Prepared
Newly seated Commissioners David Brenner and Lynn Larson feel more than confident that they can step in and hear the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project.
Both Brenner and Larson said they attended the majority of the hearings held by the Town Commission before the application was put on hold while the Planning and Zoning Board reviews town codes that affect the project next month.
And Town Attorney David Persson said that he and Town Manager Bruce St. Denis are working to get new commissioners up to speed on the workings of town government and all applications currently before the town.
Said Persson: “Everyone has been paying attention, especially when it comes to the club’s project.”
Town Clerk Trish Granger also confirmed all commission candidates receive the same e-mails and agenda materials as the seated commissioners, which includes all materials submitted for the Islandside application.
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