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Court orders Anna Maria election confirmed

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

The 2nd District Court of Appeal has ordered that the recall election of Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus be confirmed by the city’s canvassing board.

Stoltzfus was recalled from office, 362-333, in a Sept. 7 vote, but certification of the results had been put on hold Sept. 3 by court order from 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas.

However, Florida law calls for the certification of an election by the 12th day of the voting.

Citizens for Sunshine Inc., a public watchdog group represented by attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen, filed an emergency motion Sept. 14 with the DCA as a friend of the court. Mogensen claimed that not certifying the election within the specified timeframe would be a violation of state law.

The DCA ordered Stoltzfus and his attorney, Richard Harrison, to respond to the emergency motion by 3 p.m. Sept. 15, but that response did not sway the DCA.

In its order, the lifted the stay of the election certification results.

Once the election is certified, the city will swear Gene Aubry into the office of commissioner to serve the remaining 14 months of Stoltzfus’ term.

Aubry ran against Stoltzfus for the commission term in the same Sept. 7 recall election. Aubry won by a 363-332 vote.

Harrison has claimed that the election and recall motion are both illegal, and he has vowed to continue Stoltzfus’ appeal.

The Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus effort began in March following the public disclosure of more than 800 of Stoltzfus personal e-mails pertaining to city business.

Some of those e-mails discussed ways to successfully sue the city, getting rid of city attorney Jim Dye and city planner Alan Garrett, and how Stoltzfus wanted to kick Mayor Fran Barford’s ass, among other assertions the Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus Committee found were misfeasance and malfeasance on Stoltzfus’ part.

Stoltzfus challenged the recall committee in court, but Nicholas said the committee’s petition for a recall vote was legally sufficient. Stoltzfus then appealed to the 2nd DCA, but the DCA has apparently determined the recall vote and certification are legal.

Stoltzfus can still appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

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