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Town Council discusses moving dates of local elections

Four-year council terms also tendered for possible referendum

June 5, 2019
By LEAH SANKEY ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Beach voters may be asked whether the Town should move the dates of local elections to run concurrently with state and federal elections and lengthen Town Council terms from three-year to four-year terms for the same reason.

As discussed by Town Council Monday, the proposed joint referendum would move council elections from March to November.

The council said that this is in part due to the desire to save taxpayers money, but the money they'd be saving is nominal according to council members Ray Murphy and Joanne Shamp.

Shamp outwardly disagreed with moving the elections to November, reasoning that community members are more involved during season. Despite not being a fan of the ordinance, she supports it going to referendum.

In 2001, the council changed their terms to four years without consulting voters and were sued as a result. They were forced to switch back to three-year terms.

The question of changing terms from three to four years has been on the ballot numerous times and has always been defeated. As recent as 2016, voters turned down the four-year terms on a referendum.

"2020 is going to be a huge presidential election, which means that we will have a huge voter turnout in November," said Mayor Anita Cereceda. "It gives us our best chance of having the voters say that we should have four-year terms."

"For consistency and continuity and institutional knowledge of the town, four-year terms will help stabilize our town," said Cereceda.



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