The board of directors of the Longboat Key Public Interest Committee (PIC) is saddened and distressed that the Town Commission, in a 5-2 vote, has allowed Mayor Lee Rothenberg to run for yet another term on the commission.
PIC commends the mayor for his fine and dedicated service to the town and for his interest in serving the public. However, his persistence in seeking yet another term of office — which would result in his serving on the commission for seven years and five months, a period substantially in excess of the charter-stated, six-year term limit — raises substantial questions and concerns, even if within the letter of the law, because the mayor’s initial elected term of service following a five-month appointment was a partial rather than full term.
The town’s six-year, charter-term limit was intended to ensure that the commission would be staffed with “new blood” to foster the injection of new ideas. It is understood that two prior commissions and a Charter Review Committee recognized this; the commission’s recent vote disparages that intent and those recognitions.
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the mayor placed his fellow commissioners in the position of having to vote for or against him in such a matter. The indirect pressure of being asked to support the ambitions of a fellow commissioner cannot be underestimated. This is particularly so, because the mayor himself participated in the vote. At a minimum, this action by the mayor creates an appearance of impropriety even if technical legal arguments can be made to support his self-serving participation.
PIC urges the mayor to reconsider his ambitions and to step aside in conformity with the spirit of the town charter. Surely the mayor — who has labored hard to serve the town — does not wish to create a bad precedent or subject the commissions to possible future challenges about the propriety of his re-election, if such occurs.
Other citizens stand ready to seek election and to serve the first district on the commission. The mayor should allow the election process to go forward without him. If he does not, he will be doing the town a disservice — particularly if there is any question about his willingness to complete an additional full term. In that event, the commission — rather than the electorate — would choose his successor.
All of the foregoing inure in favor of the mayor seeking to now serve the town in some other way or capacity. Surely he does not wish to disparage or undermine the orderly progression of the electoral process in accordance with the spirit of the town charter. PIC believes that his intended course of action will do just that.
Judy Achre, Ed Adams, Betty Blair, Gaele Barthold, Bed Feole, Chuck Fuller, Scott Haas, Ron Johnson, Lenny Landau, Jack McMahon,
Dick Pelton, Ann Roth and
PIC Board of Directors
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