- March 15, 2016
Before the special election to select Ocoee’s new District 4 commissioner, members of the Ocoee City Commission on Tuesday, April 18, called for a revision of the current City Charter — and especially on the language pertaining to residency requirements to run for a board seat.
The discussion began after Ocoee resident Angel de la Portilla spoke to the commission about some concerns he had pertaining to the clarification of the written language of the charter.
“There is a lot of confusion when you read the charter,” he said. “The City Commission has the authority, vested in the charter, to appoint a charter review commission at any time as such deemed necessary by the City Commission.”
After the city elections that took place Tuesday, March 23, the commission identified some vagueness in the City Charter’s language related to the election process, candidate qualification and special elections.
“There are little things that you have to catch that should have been caught, but they weren’t, and that happens,” Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen said. “We need to have a facilitator (who) is qualified in municipal election policy and qualified to advice in the necessary things that we need to change in our charter.”
Currently, any person who wants to run for the any commission seat can do so as long as they are “bona fide residents of their respective districts as of the date of qualifying to run for office.”
Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson believes the language pertaining residency requirements should be reviewed.
“It’s ridiculous that you can move into (the city) tonight, and then tomorrow morning, you can sign up to run for office in this city,” he said. “There is something wrong with that, and we have to change it.”
Commissioners Richard Firstner and Scott Kennedy agreed.
“We need a comprehensive review of the charter but mainly on the election section, because we found this last time a lot of discrepancies in there,” Firstner said. “I think it should be done right away: Form a commission and get a facilitator (who is) qualified.”
“Expediting the charter review absolutely has to be done,” Kennedy said. “We need to better define the residency (requirements), and I think we also need to better define the vacancy question.”
The commission plans to discuss the appointment of the charter review commission, as well as who it will select as the legal adviser to lead the review process at its Tuesday, May 2, meeting.
The commission also postponed discussion regarding the special election to select a new commissioner for District 4 until its next meeting. All members agreed it would be beneficial to announce it as an item on the agenda prior to making a decision on the matter.