City of Okeechobee to hold elections and appointment to fill seats for 2018 terms

OKEECHOBEE — The City of Okeechobee is now accepting applications from city residents who wish to be considered for appointment to serve on the city council, to fill the term left by the resignation of Michael O’Connor.

Individuals interested can access the application packet by visiting the website and by clicking on the “Employment” tab on the left hand side of the webpage. Applicants cannot pre-file to run for city council and apply for the open seat.

The appointment to the council can be substituted in lieu of the election because of Home Rule powers which authorizes municipalities to either adopt the process provided in the Florida State Statute or another method. Within the Okeechobee Code of Ordinances, Chapter 2 Administration, Article II-City Council, Section 2-39-Filling of vacancies in elective offices; procedures, states, “Should any vacancy occur at any time in any elective office of the City of Okeechobee, whether by death, resignation, forfeiture, removal or otherwise, said elective office shall be promptly filled by the appointment of a person who qualifies for a city office, by a majority vote of the city council. Said appointee shall hold the office for that period of time remaining in the office to which he or she is appointed, and until he or she is then elected in a general election, or their successor in office is duly elected and qualified.”

The procedures to make the appointment are threefold: upon being notified of such vacancy, the mayor or his designee shall instruct the city clerk to publish a notice of vacancy in a newspaper of general circulation, with directions and date to apply for the position; the city clerk shall create an application packet, with a specified deadline, for qualified electors of the City of Okeechobee, interested in being considered for appointment to the elected office and to compile same for distribution to the city council; the city council shall fill the vacancy, by majority vote, at a duly advertised city council meeting within 60 days of the notice being published.

The individual who is appointed as a city council member will have the same authority, duties and responsibilities as if they were elected to the position. The appointee will be required to take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State of Florida, as well as uphold all laws governing municipalities whether federal, state or local.

The appointed citizen will serve on the council until Jan. 4, 2021. A copy of a voter registration card is required to be attached with the application form and the deadline for submission is at 4:30 p.m. on July 20. The tentative schedule will be to consider an appointment at the Aug. 7, regular city council meeting.

Three city council members and the city clerk are up for election on Nov. 6 as well.

The three city council member positions that are up for election are currently occupied by Councilman Noel Chandler, Councilman Gary Ritter and Mayor Dowling R. Watford Jr. The date to register to vote by is Oct. 9, with early voting beginning on Oct. 22, running through Nov. 3.

The requirements to run for the positions are: be a city resident, be a registered voter, be at least 18-years-old and file all paperwork by deadline at 12 p.m. noon, Aug. 24. The location to file for the position is at city hall, Okeechobee City Clerk’s Office 55 Southeast Third Ave., Room 100 and the qualifying fee is $159. For more information, contact City Clerk Lane Gamiotea at 863-763-3372 ext. 9814.

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