ANNA MARIA – As one of his final acts as an Anna Maria commissioner, Doug Copeland requested the adoption of a city resolution that urges federal and state legislators to support the long-delayed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Copeland did not seek reelection in November and his time in office will officially end on Thursday, Dec. 5. The Thursday, Nov. 14 commission meeting was Copeland’s final regularly scheduled city meeting. At that meeting, City Attorney Becky Vose introduced Resolution R19-753.
“This was specifically requested by Commissioner Copeland,” Vose said.
Copeland then said, “It came to my attention that there are concurrent bills in the Florida Legislature – the House and the Senate – supporting the ERA. It’s the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. It’s been 40 years since the ERA was first sent out to the states. Thirty-seven of them have passed it; 38 are required. Florida could and should be the state this year that could put it over the top. I’m more confident that the state of Virginia will do that this year.
“I would have a hard time if I were asked to explain to my wife, daughters and granddaughter why I have rights guaranteed in the Constitution that they don’t. I think it’s time that women are recognized with the same rights as men,” Copeland said.
The resolution notes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution must be ratified by three-fourths of the 50 states.
“Congress finally passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, but then limited the time for ratification for the necessary 38 states to seven years. By 1979, only 35 states had ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Since 1979, two more states have ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, but the 37 states still fall just one state short,” the resolution says.
“The time limit has run out for the 38 states,” Copeland said. “There’s legislation being proposed in Washington that would extend that time limit, so I encourage the city to pass this resolution.”
Copeland was referencing S.J. Resolution 6, which was introduced to the U.S. Senate in January.
The commission unanimously adopted resolution R19-753 and copies will be sent to the governor and the state Legislature urging them to make Florida the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.
Before serving multiple terms as a city commissioner, Copeland served on the Planning and Zoning Board for approximately 20 years. As a commissioner, Copeland also recently represented Anna Maria Island on the Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC).
Copeland’s final meeting provided his peers with the opportunity to recognize his service to the city.
“Thank you for all you’ve done to help me since I’ve been the mayor,” Mayor Dan Murphy said. “You’ve made my job easy, you’ve made it rewarding and you’ve made it fun in spite of the arguments we’ve gotten into. You leave behind a tremendous legacy of contributions.”
Murphy said one of Copeland’s many contributions was the development of Gulf Front Park, the coastal preserve that extends from Oak Avenue to Magnolia Avenue. Murphy said Copeland helped secure TDC funds for that project.
“Jon Crane’s got some tough shoes to fill,” Murphy said of Copeland’s incoming successor.
Commissioner Carol Carter praised Copeland for his knowledge, his historical perspective and his understanding of city ordinances.
“Your good humor was always a credit to you too,” Carter said.
Copeland thanked Murphy for making his time as commissioner so rewarding.
“I want to thank the various commissioners for the work we’ve done. We haven’t always agreed, but after a decision was made there wasn’t backbiting and infighting. We worked together as a team. I want to thank the voters for allowing me to serve,” Copeland said.
He then thanked the city staff.
“This city is so fortunate with the staff we have. Everyone does their job, they work hard, they care about the city and are always helpful. I appreciate all the time they’ve given me, and I just wanted to say thank you,” Copeland said.
“I want to personally thank Commissioner Copeland for his service that goes back many, many years,” Commissioner Amy Tripp said.
Vose then said, “I really enjoyed working with you. It made my job easier, particularly when you were the chair. You’ve just done an incredible job. I’ve see seen a lot of city commissioners in different cities and you’re really good. I’m going to miss you.”
City Clerk LeAnne Addy said, “I want to thank Doug for being a commissioner and teaching all my staff and everyone else all that we have learned.”