ANNA MARIA – The city of Anna Maria must fill two city commission seats by appointment – one this month and one in November.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, the commission hopes to appoint someone to serve the remainder of former commission Chair Brian Seymour’s two-year term that expires in November 2020. Seymour resigned from the commission last month. The deadline to submit an application to fill his seat is 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
In November, the commission will need to appoint someone to fill the commission seat currently held by unopposed Commissioner Dale Woodland.
On Wednesday, Sept. 4, Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett called Woodland and told him he was disqualified from the 2019 city elections because he paid his $48 qualifying fee with a personal check instead of with a check drawn from a designated campaign account.
This means Woodland is not eligible for re-election in the upcoming city elections that will conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 5. When contacted that afternoon, Woodland said he wants to serve another term in office and he hopes he’ll be reappointed in November.
Woodland said Bennett was very polite when delivering the news Wednesday morning.
“The law’s the law,” Woodland said.
Woodland said he paid his qualifying fee on the first day of the two-week qualifying period and assumed the elections office would contact him if there were any problems with his qualifying papers or fee payment.
Woodland’s disqualification leaves incumbent Commissioner Carol Carter and Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Jon Crane as the only two candidates running unopposed for the three commission three seats open to election this fall.
Carter now serves as the commission chair in the wake of Seymour’s resignation on Friday, Aug. 30.
Commissioners receive an annual salary of $4,800 and are subject to the Florida Sunshine Law during their time in office.
Application forms for those seeking Seymour’s vacated seat can be downloaded at the city website, obtained by email or mail from the city clerk’s office or picked up in person at city hall. To contact the clerk’s office, email email@example.com or call 941-708-6130.
Applicants must be city residents who have lived in Anna Maria for at least two years. They must also be registered city voters, legal residents of Manatee County and on their applications, list three reasons why they wish to be considered for a commission seat.
On Wednesday, Sept. 4, the Anna Maria Commission held a special meeting to discuss the process for appointing Seymour’s replacement. Woodland’s disqualification was not discussed.
At the suggestion of Mayor Dan Murphy and City Attorney Becky Vose, the commission agreed to utilize the same appointment process utilized when Commissioner Nancy Yetter resigned in early 2018.
During that process, the commissioners ranked the three candidates in order of their personal preference. The applicant receiving the lowest total score – Amy Tripp – earned the appointment.
The application forms received from those seeking Seymour’s vacated seat will be provided to the four sitting commissioners in advance. During the Thursday, Sept. 26 commission meeting, the commissioners will then fill out a form in which they rank the applicants as their first, second and additional choices, depending on the number of applications received.
A commissioner’s top choice receives one point, a commissioner’s second choice receives two points and so forth. Each commissioner’s rankings will be revealed during the appointment process.
If the first set of rankings produces a tie, the commissioners will rank the candidates again. If the second round also produces a tie, the winner will be determined by cutting cards, drawing straws, throwing dice or some similar game of chance.
A similar appointment process will then take place in mid-November to fill the seat vacated by Woodland after the city elections conclude.
During last week’s meeting, Carter asked what happens if a replacement for Seymour is not found. Murphy said the city could put out another call for candidates and could operate as a four-member commission until a fifth member is appointed.
Murphy said he would prefer not to have a four-person commission because that creates the potential for 2-2 tied votes at a time when the city budget must be adopted and decisions about the new City Pier must be made.