By: Dave Hulett
A funny thing happened on the way to the polls. Coral Springs voters first had a choice for the Mayor’s seat in the November elections, and then they did not. One candidate withdrew after the filing period closed.
But in fact, another candidate emerged, thanks to Section 6-15 subsection (1) of City Ordinances that states:
“If the death, withdrawal or removal from the ballot of a qualified candidate or candidates following the end of the qualifying period results in fewer than two (2) candidates for that office, and at least forty-five (45) days remain before the election, the qualifying period for that office shall be reopened for a certain period….”.
If this ordinance did not exist, the remaining candidate would have been automatically elected without having to campaign or debate the issues. In this instance, that would be an incumbent commissioner.
The ordinance was established in order to insure that voters have a choice
This ordinance exists in some form all over the country, not just Florida. To deal with opening a new filing period, the Coral Springs City commissioners called an emergency special meeting on June 27 to set the new time for filing. At a very small cost to the City, an ad was placed in a local newspaper announcing the reopened filing period.
I find statements made by two commissioners at this meeting to be very disheartening.
Vice Mayor Vignola said; “…we need to change the process that it doesn’t happen again.”
Mayor Boccard said; “….Loophole….be able to prevent this from happening in the future…”
A Loophole? Really?
What is being said here? It certainly sounds like Vice Mayor Vignola and Mayor Boccard think that giving citizens a choice is a bad idea. Apparently neither of them are in favor of as open a democratic process as possible in order to give voters a choice between two candidates.
This is the first time this situation has come up in our 50-year history
It’s not like the use of this ordinance was being abused by anyone. A candidate who happened to be a former mayor simply made a last minute decision that he didn’t really want to run again. I suspect it may be another 50 years before a similar situation occurs.
Now at the last commission meeting, the commission voted on first reading, to remove this ordinance from the books entirely! However, citizens will still have a chance to express their voice on this issue at the next commission meeting on Wednesday September 3rd prior to a final vote being taken.
This ordinance should stay on the books
Coral Springs is supposed to be a “cut above” in all things. Why should our democratic process be anything but as fully open and as inclusive as possible?