Miami Beach Ballot Question #3: Filling of City Commission Vacancies:
Vacancy last year created some confusion around current law
This question would clarify procedures for filling vacancies on the City Commission.
Why this is on the ballot: The existing Charter language only addresses vacancies in general and does not address vacancies due to resignation. There was some confusion last year when Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez had to resign her seat when she ran for Congress. Under the State’s Resign to Run law which was expanded to include candidates running for federal office, Rosen Gonzalez tendered her resignation in April 2018 but she postdated it, as allowed, for January 3, 2019, the day members of Congress were sworn in. Because her resignation date occurred after the November general election and the City Charter provision on vacancies was interpreted to mean an election could not be scheduled until after her resignation took effect, Commissioners decided to appoint Joy Malakoff to fill the remaining eight months of Rosen Gonzalez’s term as a special election would have cost more than $300,000. Commissioners did not feel the expenditure on a special election was prudent for an eight-month term.
If voters approve the question, the Commission would have more flexibility on the decision. Once a resignation letter is submitted, Commissioners would have 30 days to make a decision whether to hold an election which could be done in conjunction with another already scheduled election even if that election is prior to the effective date of the resignation, thus saving the costs of a special election. The winner would not be seated until the resignation took effect but the election could take place prior to the effective date.
If Commissioners chose to appoint a member to fill the vacancy, they would then have another 30 days to make their choice.