Miami Beach Referendum 3: Filling commission vacancies

This post is part of our voter guide for the Nov. 5 local elections. Head to the main landing page for a guide to some other key races.

In addition to three commission races, Miami Beach voters will have to vote on six referenda when they head to the polls. The third referendum reads like this:

Shall Charter Section 2.07, which establishes procedures for filling vacancies in City Commission, be amended to create procedures for filling vacancies due to resignation of a Commission member, clarify that in case of any vacancy the Commission is not required to appoint someone to fill vacancy but instead must decide whether to appoint or schedule an election, and establish timing of appointments and elections, with other election-related provisions established in Resolution scheduling such election? 

This change centers on the flexibility of Beach commissioners to discuss how they’ll fill an upcoming vacancy when an elected official resigns.

The city’s charter currently keeps elected officials from being able to act until the resigning commissioner’s seat is vacant. At that point, they have 30 days to appoint someone to serve the rest of that commissioner’s term or they have to hold a special election.

This referendum would give the commission the ability to still follow that appointment process, but it would allow them to start having that discussion from the date a commissioner submits their letter of resignation, instead of from the date that they actually step down from office. 

That extra lead time would then allow the commission to potentially match an election up with an upcoming city election or a county/national election instead of having their own standalone race.

The most recent example of this situation would be when former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez stepped down to run for a U.S. congressional seat. She submitted her resignation in April 2018 but didn’t actually step down until January of this year. 

If this change is approved by voters, the commission in that case could’ve called an election to fill her vacancy during last year’s primary or general election cycle, instead of having to hold a standalone election or appoint someone to complete her term.

If you vote yes, you’d be supporting more flexibility for the City Commission in deciding how to fill a vacancy by allowing the timeframe for a decision  to start the date a commissioner decides to resign, instead of the date that their seat becomes vacant.

If you vote no, you’re supporting the process remaining the same.

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