Court ruling allows former Ocoee Commissioner George Oliver III to qualify for 2024 special election

This decision comes following the Ocoee Commission's November decision that barred Oliver from running for his old seat

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On the Nov. 7 Ocoee City Commission meeting, following a flurry of public comments, legal definitions and discussion among the commission members, a decision was made to clarify the term successor in the city’s charter that essentially ruled that a person cannot be their own successor.

Before the clarification was voted on, Ocoee City Attorney Richard Geller made sure the commissioners knew that though they had the power to make this decision, those affected could check that power.

“I would also point out that decisions made ... by the City Commission under this section shall be subject to review by the courts,” Geller said. “If someone disagrees with your interpretation, there could be some legal action that comes out of that.”

Legal action did come out of the decision.

Former Ocoee District 4 Commissioner George Oliver III was at the heart of this clarification. Oliver relinquished his seat on the commission to run for mayor, when incumbent Rusty Johnson won, Oliver wanted to succeed himself and run in the special election for his old seat. 

The commission’s clarification barred Oliver from doing that and would have made him wait until 2025 to run again. As the city attorney said, if someone disagreed with the decision legal action could be taken.

Oliver did just that and on Dec. 7 the Ninth Circuit Court granted his motion for a temporary injunction that would allow the former commissioner to qualify for the special election, run for his old seat and essentially be his own successor if he wins the special election. 

“Melanie Sibbitt, in her official capacity as Clerk of the City of Ocoee is required to add Plaintiff's name to the list of qualified candidates for election to the City of Ococe, City Commission District 4 upon receipt and review of candidate qualification documents from Plaintiff,” the court filing said.  

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The court’s reasoning behind this decision was based on two things, the first being the commission’s powers to judge the qualifications of candidates.

“But for the City Commissioners decision at the November 7, 2023, meeting, there has been no argument the Plaintiff does not meet all of the above listed requirements (to qualify for the election),” the court filing said.  

“The City Charter does not give the City the right to judge the qualifications of candidates. Instead, Section C-10 of the Ocoee City Charter states, “[t]he City Commission shall be the judge of the election and qualifications of its members and of the grounds for forfeiture of their office...” (emphasis added). It is clear Plaintiff is not a member of the City Commission and therefore the City Commission is not the judge of his qualifications as a candidate.”

The second reason is, that in the court’s opinion leaving Oliver off the ballot would cause irreparable harm.

“Plaintiff, and the voters of the city, will suffer irreparable harm if the requested relief is not granted. Without a temporary injunction, Plaintiff will not appear as a candidate for the election in City of Ocoee, City Commission, District 4 in 2024. This result is per se irreparable harm in the election context,” the filing said. 

To read the court’s filing in its entirety follow this link:



Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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