Key West Palm Beach commissioners now oppose revisiting term limits on November ballotby George Bennett | August 6th, 2010
City Commissioners Jeri Muoio and Kimberly Mitchell now say they oppose putting a question on the November ballot asking voters if they want to extend the mayoral limits from two terms to three. Muoio and Mitchell had been sympathetic to putting the question before voters on the general election ballot.
With Commissioner Molly Douglas also opposed, that means at least three of five commissioners are against setting a referendum on extending term limits for the mayor. If voters don’t approve a change to the city charter, Frankel can’t seek a third term in March.
Both Douglas and Muoio have opened campaigns for mayor, but there was speculation Muoio would step aside if Frankel were a candidate. Mitchell is also the subject of frequent mayoral speculation.
If commissioners don’t put a question on the ballot, supporters can force a referendum by collecting about 5,800 signatures. But a petition drive launched last month appears to be short of the goal, and county Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher has said she needs to have signatures verified and language approved by Aug. 20.
Yet another possibility is that the petition drive misses the Aug. 20 deadline but comes up with enough signatures later and forces a special election that could cost up to $100,000.
That scenario led Muoio and Mitchell to say they’d prefer a November referendum rather than paying for a special election.
But Muoio’s campaign released a statement today saying she has concluded “it is not clear if a special election could actually be implemented between the November 2010 election and before January 2011.”
January is when West Palm Beach candidates qualify for the March ballot.
“I didn’t want a costly special election that would burden the tax payers. Also, city commissioners’ voting on this initiative does not seem ethical and the whole process seems rushed,” Muoio said in a statement released by her campaign consultant.
Mitchell noted that the petition drive appears to be short of its goal.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that by the absence of signatures, the people are speaking…The silence is deafening,” Mitchell said.
A spokesman for the group gathering petitions could not immediately be reached this afternoon.
Frankel wasn’t immediately reachable either.