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Tie vote leaves AM commission vacancy

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

With Anna Maria commissioners deadlocked 2-2 on a replacement commissioner to take Mayor SueLynn’s seat on the dais, Commissioner Chuck Webb suggested a special election to settle the issue.

At the commission’s Nov. 15 organizational meeting, planning and zoning board member Carl Pearman and former Commissioner Gene Aubry were both nominated and seconded to replace SueLynn, who was voted commission chair earlier in the meeting and thus relinquished her commission seat to become mayor.

When she called for commission nominations, Commissioner Dale Woodland nominated Pearman, a motion seconded by Commissioner John Quam. Commissioner Nancy Yetter, who was seconded by Webb, nominated Aubry.

There were no other nominations as former Commissioner Tom Aposporos withdrew his name from consideration before the meeting.

There were two rounds of voting, one for each nominee, the vote ended 2-2 — Woodland and Quam versus Webb and Yetter. After much discussion among the four commissioners on the dais, all said they did not intend to change their vote.

Webb said if no one planned to change his or her vote, the way to resolve the issue might be a special election. He asked city clerk Alice Baird to check into the cost of balloting on a single issue.

At the organizational meeting, two commissioners, incumbent Webb, who was up for another term and unopposed in the Nov. 6 election, and newly elected Yetter — also unopposed — were sworn into office. Then a full board — five commissioners — voted among themselves for someone to succeed outgoing Mayor Mike Selby.

Selby opened the meeting and stepped down after SueLynn was elected commission chair.

The city charter calls for the commission chair to take the seat of mayor since no one ran for the office in the Nov. 6 city election.

But the agenda at the Nov. 15 meeting seemed at odds with what commissioners agreed to at their Oct. 25 meeting.

At that earlier meeting, city attorney Jim Dye said the commission could organize the voting for commission chair and replacement commissioner any way it wanted.

Then-commission chair Webb suggested that the commission first vote on a replacement commissioner, then a commission chair to become mayor. Then have the new mayor sworn in and the replacement commissioner sworn.     This would ensure a full, five-member commission to vote for a new chair and vice chair, Webb had said.

There was no dissension among commissioners Oct. 25 to Webb’s suggestion.

However, at the city’s Nov. 15 organizational meeting, Woodland suggested the commission first vote on a commission chair to become mayor.

Webb said he thought the commission had decided Oct. 25 it was going to first elect a replacement commissioner, then a chair, but Woodland wanted to elect the chair first. Quam agreed and neither Yetter nor SueLynn disagreed. Webb then reluctantly agreed.

The agenda called for election of a commission chair first, then a replacement commissioner.

The result was SueLynn was elected chair unanimously.

Selby stepped down.

After much discussion on the merits of each candidate among the commissioners, and a brief speech by Aubry about his qualifications and previous volunteer work for the city, two rounds of voting both ended 2-2 for each candidate. Pearman was absent from the meeting, Quam said, due to a family commitment.

Webb said he didn’t know how to resolve the deadlock except by special election.

Baird said later it would cost the city about $3,500 to hold a special election for commissioner.

SueLynn said it’s up to the commission to decide if it wants a special election or not. Anna Maria’s mayor does not cast a vote in the event of a tie on the commission.

It would not be the city’s first special election for a commissioner.

In September 2010, the city held a recall election for then-Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus. The recall was on the same ballot where Aubry was elected 363-332 and completed the remaining 13 months of Stoltzfus’ term.

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