By Jessica Sanchez and Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporters
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – On November 5th, the City of Miami Beach will vote on 3 of 6 City Commission seats, as well as six important ballot questions facing residents. Two of those ballot questions are increasing the Mayor’s term limits, and the other is for procedures to fill a vacancy for any City Commissioner.
As the governing body of the City of Miami Beach, the City Commission is composed of a Mayor and six City Commissioners, each of whom is elected to serve for a specific “term”, subject to a specific “term limit” (maximum amount of time a person can serve during his/her lifetime as Mayor or Commissioner).
Currently, the Mayor serves for a term of two years, with a term limit of six years (three two-year terms). Each City Commissioner serves for a term of four years, with a term limit of eight years (two four- year terms).
The primary issue in the above ballot question concerns increasing the Mayor’s term and term limit to conform to the term and term limit applicable to City Commissioners.
Miami Beach United (MBU), a volunteer based non-profit group representing residents published a statement that they oppose this resolution. Their position was communicated in an email along with their position opposing the floor area ratio (“FAR”) changes.
The statement explains ‘The Mayor has greater sway than other Commissioners over the decisions made by the City Commission, so it is appropriate that the Mayor’s term should be shorter than that of other Commissioners and that he/she should be subject to reelection or replacement more frequently than the other Commissioners.’
Frank Del Vecchio, head of the South Point Neighborhood Association shares his position, to vote, “NO (171), to an increase in the duration of the mayor’s term in office. I subscribe to the reasons expressed by the citizens’ organization, Miami Beach United (MBU).”
As far as the question regarding procedures to fill a vacancy for any City Commissioner due to resignation of a Commission member, the vote will be to change the City Charter Section 2.07 to require a decision whether to appoint or schedule an election, and establish timing of appointments and elections.
The proposed amendments make clear that the Commission is not required to appoint someone to fill the vacancy, but instead must initially decide whether to appoint or schedule an election to fill the vacancy. Del Vecchio intends to vote “YES (174). Change (simplify) the procedure for filling an unexpected vacancy on the city commission.”
Tanya K. Bhatt, President of Miami Beach United is hopeful the voter turnout will be strong on November 5th, “We are a tiny village, really, when you look at the number of full time residents, and the even smaller number of registered voters, and so every single vote really has an outsized impact in every single election.”