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Date of Issue: August 11, 2010

Former commissioner asks for review

Former Anna Maria City Commissioner Tom Aposporos has sent city attorney Jim Dye and Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus committee chair Bob Carter a letter offering an independent opinion regarding the Sept. 7 special election to recall Harry Stoltzfus from office.

Gene Aubry and Stoltzfus have qualified to go on the ballot to fill the remainder of the term, should the vote to recall Stoltzfus be successful. Voting for the commission seat takes place at the same time and location as the recall vote.

Dye and attorney Richard Harrison, who represents Stoltzfus, agreed before Stoltzfus filed to qualify as a candidate that state law calls for a commission election at the same time as the recall, and that Stoltzfus could qualify to run on the ballot for the seat he might lose in the recall election.

Aposporos said that Dye’s decision that the city should hold an election was based upon the Florida statute on recall elections involving districts and multiple candidates.

The Anna Maria charter, however, requires city commissioners fill a vacancy on the commission and is silent on the subject of a recall election, Aposporos noted.

As the former chair of the past two Anna Maria charter review committees, Aposporos said he was “well aware” that Anna Maria commissioners are elected at large, not by district.

He’s obtained an opinion from Westlaw, an Internet source for attorneys, that the city charter should take precedence over state statute because the charter provides for an election to replace a single vacant seat in an at-large district.

The Westlaw opinion states “If only one member of a governing board is voted to be recalled from office, then the vacancy created by the recall is to be filled by the governing body according to applicable law.” Aposporos said he believes this applies to the recall election as the governing body is the city.

He asked Dye to reconsider his stance and sent the opinion to Dye for review. Aposporos also asked Carter to forward the documents to the committee’s legal counsel.

“It’s probably not going to change anything,” Aposporos said. “I just wanted to get it out there that this election to vote in a commissioner at the same time as the recall vote might not be the way it should be done.”