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Port Orange Observer Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 5 months ago

Port Orange city council declares vacancy of District 1 seat, establishes special election procedures

In a special meeting on Jan. 8, the Port Orange city council voted 4-0 to pass a resolution of vacancy for the District 1 council seat held by Bob Ford.
by: Tanya Russo Staff Writer

With heavy hearts, the Port Orange City Council held a special meeting on Jan. 8, to vote on a declaration of vacancy in the District 1 position previously held by the late councilman Bob Ford. 

Ford died on Dec. 22, 2018, following a battle with cancer. A bouquet of yellow carnations and daisies marked the empty seat where councilman Ford sat for over eight years. The resolution passed 4-0. Council also passed a unanimous resolution for a primary and special election to fill the remaining four-year term of the District 1 council seat.

Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette said it was urgent to fill the vacancy as soon as legally possible, and procedures for holding a special election were established. 

City Manager Jake Johansson outlined the dates for the election process. The city will advertise the position for two weeks,  but effective immediately, candidates who wish to run for the District 1 seat can declare their intentions. The qualifying period for candidates, will start at noon on Feb. 18, and run through noon on Feb. 23. A primary election will be held on April 30.

If there is more than one candidate, a special election will occur on June 11. Candidates must currently reside in District 1 as well as have lived in the city for a minimum of one year. 

Johansson also said his staff is willing to sit with prospective candidates to educate them about the daily process of serving in city government. He talked about how Councilman Chase Tramont sat through many council meetings before he ran for office.

The election will cost $40,000, said Lisa Lewis, Volusia County supervisor of elections. From now until Feb. 20, prospective candidates must complete a board application, which can be found on the city website.  Interested persons should send a resume that includes experience with public policy and the running of city government.  Proof of Residency should be submitted with the application. Appointment of the interim council position will be made at a special meeting on Feb. 26.

Discussion about the interim position brought many view points. Councilman Scott Stiltner raised concern about an interim council member possibly running for the four-year council seat. He said that citizens may think the council is endorsing that person as a candidate. He expressed it was important to him that the interim council member know that the position is just until the election is complete.

Tramont said he thought there were a lot of qualified people to be candidates to fill the vacancy and would like to see the people decide how the position should be filled. Burnette said the interim person may or may not wish to run for the permanent seat for District 1.

Phil Madsen, owner of Anytime Fitness on Nova Road, said that he thought since it took three votes to pass anything, it was not urgent to fill an interim position.  He believed the interim process was "a waste of time" and the special election should be held to let the people decide who fills a permanent vacancy.  He agreed with Stiltner that appointing an interim council member could look like favoritism.



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