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Date of Issue: September 07, 2010

Election yes, results no

The recall election of Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus will proceed on Sept. 7, Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas ruled today, but he ordered that the results be sealed.

He also ordered that the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections withhold certification of the election until the Second District Court of Appeal either further stays the election, rules on the Stoltzfus appeal of Nicholas’ Aug. 24 order to proceed with the recall, or his stay order expires.

“I understand the import and impact of this decision,” Nicholas said after hearing oral arguments by attorneys representing Stoltzfus and the Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus committee and others.

“But it is not a difficult decision. It is a balance of rights,” between Stoltzfus and the citizens of Anna Maria, he said.

Nicholas said his ruling is effective until 5 p.m. Sept. 24, unless further extended by the appeal court or the appeal is heard. The ruling also applies to all absentee ballots, the judge said.

He made it clear that the ballots and results would be open to the public if his order sealing the vote expires without an extension or other ruling by the appeals court.

Stoltzfus’ attorney, Richard Harrison, said he would request an expedited hearing from the appeal court and that he hoped the other parties would join him in that regard. Nicholas said he also would to see the appeal expedited.