Nine Riviera Beach candidates ruled eligible to run in upcoming elections

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - The nine candidates who have filed to run in the mayoral and city council races will not be disqualified from the March 12th election.

Carrie Ward, the City Clerk, announced the decision this afternoon.

Last week, Richard Giorgio, a political consultant hired by some city council candidates to conduct research on their opponents, told Ward that some of the candidates, including Mayor Thomas Masters, had signed campaign checks used to pay a city qualifying fee.

Under state law, only a campaign treasurer or deputy treasurer can sign campaign checks unless the candidate is also listed as a treasurer or deputy treasurer.

"She was disappointed to see that those candidates had not properly qualified but she was not willing to agree at that time to disqualify them," Giorgio told WPTV NewsChannel 5 on Thursday. "She needs to follow the statutes. She's the one who needs to make the announcement as the clerk. But, she should disqualify those candidates. That responsibility is hers."

An email sent to Ward from Gary Holland, an assistant director at the Division of Elections -- and obtained by WPTV NewsChannel 5 -- indicated Ward may have accepted checks from candidates that were not listed as treasurers or deputy treasurers in the past.

The email indicated that Ward faced potential litigation whether the candidates were disqualified or not.

"In your situation where you have apparently in the past accepted signed candidate campaign checks from candidates who were not designated as treasurers and if you try to enforce such provision at this time, you have litigation risks in either case," Ward said.

Absentee ballots were expected to be mailed to voters on Friday.

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