As the Miami Springs municipal election quickly nears, residents might be surprised to find they have a few referendum items to vote for aside from three City Council seats.  Here are the extra referendum items:

  1. Reduce the qualifying period
  2. Partial Terms of Office
  3. Process for filling vacancies
  4. Special Elections when a Councilperson resigns to run for office

Let’s look at the full text of the referendums and what they mean.  We’ll even share our opinion, but we always recommend you do your research and choose what you feel is best.

Miami Springs City Hall
Miami Springs City Hall

1 – Reduce the Qualifying Period

The Charter provides for a sixty day qualification period for candidates to run for Council. It is proposed that the Charter be amended to provide for a 10 business day qualifying period.

Shall the above-described amendment be adopted?

This referendum is no big deal.  It simply changes from 60 days to 10 business days (or basically 2 weeks) the time period where the City Clerk has to receive the signatures from potential candidates and confirm whether the candidate qualifies to run for office.  The only person to really benefit from this is the City Clerk.

Some will argue this favors incumbents who know how to navigate the election process and hurt the newcomer.  We agree with this sentiment.  However, if you’re really interested in running for office, you’ll figure out what you have to do ahead of time.

We don’t believe this will have an impact on Springs residents.

2 – Partial Terms of Office

The Charter provides that serving on the Council for a portion of any term counts towards an individual’s term limits. It is proposed that the Charter be amended to provide that an individual appointed or elected to fill a vacancy on the Council for less than half of a term will not be deemed to have served a full term.

Shall the above-described amendment be adopted?

The City Council has term limits which only allow a councilperson to serve a maximum of 4 consecutive terms.  Each term lasts two years, but if someone is appointed or elected to fill a vacancy, that partial term (even if it was just one day) is considered a full term.

We generally don’t have an issue with this proposed change for someone elected to fill a vacancy, but do have an issue for someone that’s appointed and thus not elected to office.  Thus we recommend a NO vote on Referendum number 2.

3 – Process for Filling Vacancies 

The Charter provides that Council vacancies are filled by appointment, special election, or both depending on whether 120 days remain before the next City election or in the unexpired term. It is proposed that the Charter be amended to increase this threshold from 120 days to 180 days.

Shall the above-described amendment be adopted?

This poorly worded referendum is basically trying to fix a logistical problem.  The City is supposed to hold a special election to fill a vacancy if someone resigns with 120 days or more left before the next election.  However, the State of Florida and the County Elections department requires 90 day notice to hold an election.  So this creates a logistical nightmare.  By extending this period to 180 days, it allows the City Council to appoint or fill vacancies if a term is vacated with less than 180 days.  If the term is vacated with greater than 180 days, then a special election will be held.

We generally prefer elections to appointments, however, this is a pragmatic fix to a logistical problem facing the city.

4 – Special Elections to Fill Vacancies Due to Resignations to Run for Another Office

Shall the Charter be amended to require that when the Mayor or a Councilmember resigns prospectively to run for another office and the resignation is effective after a countywide election, the vacancy will be filled by special election at a countywide primary or general election occurring before the effective date of the resignation?

This has now happened three times over the last few years where a council person has resigned to run for another office.  Let’s take former councilman Jaime Petralanda.  He resigned tor run for the Miami-Dade School Board.  His resignation notice was given in the Spring / Summer time frame, but he remained in office until the November county wide election.  Petralanda resigned his post and an appointment was made to take his seat.

Victor Vazquez did something similar.  He gave notice that he was resigning to run for Miami-Dade County Commission in the Spring / Summer time frame of last year.  However, he remained in office until he was legally required to resign from his post in November.  Then, the Council appointed George Lob to take his place.

If this change were made, the City could add a ballot question to the Countywide election at minimal cost and replace the resigning councilperson with a proper election instead of an appointment.

We definitely support this.  Again, we prefer when you, the voters of Miami Springs, choose the councilperson over an appointment.

We strongly recommend a YES on referendum number 4.



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