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Date of Issue: September 01, 2010

Stoltzfus appeals judge’s recall decision

Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas ruled Aug. 24 that the petition to recall Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus was “legally sufficient.” The recall vote would, therefore, proceed.

Stoltzfus quickly appealed Nicholas’s decision, although no hearing has been scheduled by the appeal court.

Stoltzfus first filed a motion to have the recall petition against him declared “legally insufficient,” but Nicholas ruled against the request and affirmed the Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus Committee’s petition for a special recall election. Nicholas did not rule on the committee’s allegations, just whether the petition statements fit the petition criteria.

Prior to Nicholas’ ruling, 12th Circuit Court Senior Judge Lee Haworth certified the recall petition and ordered a recall election be held Sept. 7, pending the outcome of the hearing.

On Aug. 25, the day after Nicholas announced his decision, Stoltzfus planned his appeal to the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland, and requested an expedited hearing.

His attorney, Richard Harrison, said he believes “the trial court’s order is inconsistent with the controlling precedent as established by the appellate courts in Florida and the Florida Supreme Court.

 “Commissioner Stoltzfus has authorized us to commence an appeal immediately. We will do that and the case will now proceed to the Second District Court of Appeal for further review,” Harrison said.

As of The Islander’s press deadline Monday, Aug. 30, the appeals court had not acted on the request.

Should the recall vote proceed, the city electorate will — on the same ballot as the recall — vote to fill the remainder of Stoltzfus’ term.

Architect Gene Aubry is running to fill the 15-month remaining term, as is Stoltzfus. Florida law does not prevent a commissioner subject to a recall vote from running to fill the remainder of his own term.

If the recall votes fails, Stoltzfus retains his seat, regardless of the outcome of the vote for the term remainder on the same ballot.

The city has mailed out more than 200 absentee ballots that must be returned to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office by Sept. 7 to be included in the tally.

The recall election would be the first such election in Manatee County, according to Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat.

Deadline filing…

Anna Maria City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus has asked the Manatee County circuit court to issue an emergency stay for his recall election.

Richard Harrison filed the motion for Stoltzfus with the as The Islander was headed to press.

Stoltzfus already has appealed the circuit court decision allowing the Sept. 7 recall to go forward.

The new motion argues that a stay “is required … to preserve the status quo to the extent necessary to permit Stoltzfus to obtain the meaningful appellate review to which he is entitled.”