In November, voters will decide whether to move city elections from March and May to August and November. If the referendum passes, the change will be implemented starting with the 2020 election cycle.
On Monday, the City Commission selected a procedure for potentially transitioning to a new election date. The city is holding a November referendum on moving election dates after the Decide the Date group gathered more than 4,700 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot.
If the referendum passes, sitting city commissioners will get 18 months added to their terms. The first elections on the new schedule will be held for the three district seats in 2020. The at-large commissioners will be up for election in 2022. The commission voted 3-2 to adopt the transition plan, with Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and Commissioner Willie Shaw voting against the proposal.
Under the new system, first elections will be held in August if more than two candidates are seeking a district seat or more than three candidates are seeking the two at-large seats. No candidate will be able to win a seat in August, even if he or she gets more than 50% of the vote. A final election will always be held in November.
The board still has one decision left to make regarding the language on the November ballot. The commission discussed four options at Monday’s meeting, but no clear favorite emerged. The referendum language must summarize the proposed changes in 75 words or fewer.
City Attorney Robert Fournier said he would revise the proposed language and present new options at the June 2 commission meeting.
Also at Monday’s commission meeting:
- The board declined a settlement offer from the plaintiff in a lawsuit over a Palm Avenue property. The city is facing a payment of $49.8 million in the case and awaiting some post-trial motions before deciding how to proceed. City Commissioner Hagen Brody expressed an interest in possibly discussing a city-initiated settlement offer at a future closed meeting.
- In a 3-2 vote, the city approved a rezone and alley vacation for property near the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road. The owner of the property has no set development plans for the site, but the rezone allows for increased height and density on the eastern end of the land. The property is linked to a land swap the city is conducting to facilitate the construction of a roundabout at U.S. 41 and Fruitville.
- The commission directed the city attorney to revise a proposed ordinance designed to allow ice cream trucks to operate in the city, including in residential neighborhoods. The board feared the language presented Monday was not broad enough to allow some ice cream vendors operating in the county to do so in the city.