Wilton Manors City commissioners on Tuesday voted not to hold a special election or appoint someone to fill the remainder of Justin Flippen's mayoral term, noting that a special election could not be held until August according to the Supervisor of Elections.Flippen, 41, a beloved mayor, died suddenly on Feb. 25 of a brain aneurism while en route to a City Commission meeting.
Flippen's unexpected death sent shockwaves through the community and hundreds attended his memorial service last week. Flippen had recently filed to run for re-election. Flippen was first elected to the Commission in November 2008, and then picked to serve as Vice Mayor.
He also served from 2008-2010 and 2014-2018 before being elected mayor in 2018.According to the City Charter, if a vacancy occurs and there are more than six months left in the city official's term with no regular city election scheduled within that time period, the Commission can appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
The Charter also says the city must schedule a special election 60 to 90 days after the seat becomes vacant. "The Supervisor of Election said the earliest he could do it, was along with along with August primary and we only have four commission meetings between that time and the November election, It was didn't make sense," Commissioner Paul Rolli said.
City Attorney Kerry Ezrol told commissioners they could use discretion to interpret the charter because the language does not address the existing situation in Wilton Manors.“Because of the ambiguity in the charter, it’s your decision if you want to conduct a special election in August or wait until November.
It’s also your decision if you want to appoint someone to fill the position,” Ezrol said. The charter contemplates an interim appointment and then a special election, he noted. Several residents expressed support.“I don’t think the special election is the way to go.
I think it’s a waste of our taxpayers’ dollars,” said resident Bill Deseutels.Actiivist Paul Kuta spoke out against having a special election.“The Supervisor of Elections has already told you that you can’t hold an election. It’s not the cost, it’s more the confusion. This is a presidential election where we have primaries galore. I totally support what Commissioner Resnick has said. I would not hold a special election. I think it would be confusing.”“Were in good hands.
I would like to see us hold off ,” said Doug Blevins, a member of the Wilton Manors Drive improvement District and a member of the Charter Review Committee. He urged the Commission to forgo the idea of a special election.
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