110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Joe Crews
posted Aug 13, 2014 - 11:59:19am
The current members of the DeLand City Commission, not those elected Aug. 26, will choose a replacement for Phil Martin.
Martin resigned his City Commission seat July 31 after taking a job out of town. With three seats at stake in the Aug. 26 election, Martin’s resignation, along with Vonzelle Johnson’s decision not to run for re-election create the possibility that four out of five city commissioners could be newcomers.
DeLand’s charter requires that, when a commissioner resigns with less than 28 months left in his or her term, a replacement is to be elected by the remaining commissioners within 45 days.
City staff computed that the deadline for for the appointment is Sept. 14.
“Any replacement commissioner elected or appointed under this section shall take office immediately … and shall serve for the remainder of the term of office of the commissioner whom he or she replaced,” the charter states.
According to a tentative timeline set up by the City Commission at its Aug. 4 meeting, anyone interested in Martin’s seat can apply before noon, Thursday, Aug. 28. The city will advertise the vacancy in The West Volusia Beacon and The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Any resident who has lived within the city limits for at least six months and who signs a qualification oath may apply, according to the city charter. Because the deadline is two days after the city elections, it’s conceivable that a City Commission candidate who loses in the Aug. 26 election could apply. A full list of qualifications is available at the City Clerk’s office.
With Commissioner Vonzelle Johnson absent, the three remaining commission members discussed the process Aug. 4.
Commissioners Charles Paiva and Leigh Matusick questioned whether enough time was being scheduled between applicant interviews and the meeting to select the replacement.
On Sept. 2, 3 and 4, the City Commission will meet to whittle down the applications and conduct interviews, then commissioners will reconvene Sept. 8 to make a decision. The new commissioner will be sworn in on Sept. 9.
Matusick also wondered if all the interviews would be conducted publicly, and Mayor Bob Apgar assured her they would be.
“We want the process to be as transparent as it can be,” Apgar said.
Downtown businessman and former commissioner Scott Price, who’s running against Matusick for Seat 5 on the City Commission seat, asked if there was any way to delay naming a replacement until November, when new terms start. Price pointed out that it’s possible some new blood on the City Commission might have differing views on who should take Martin’s vacated seat.
Mayor Apgar, who’s locked in a contentious race for re-election, said none of the candidates running in the elections had any idea they might be asked to select a replacement commissioner, so it shouldn’t be a consideration. Besides, commissioners’ hands are tied.
“The charter says what the charter says,” Apgar said. “Nobody up here created this situation, so we have to go by the charter.”
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