NewsLocal NewsInvestigations

Actions

Effort to recall Riviera Beach council member Julia Botel stalls after ballots deemed invalid

Citizens group claims it was tripped up by 'technicality'
Posted at 7:06 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 21:13:02-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The Committee to Reclaim Riviera Beach claimed it collected more than 2,700 signatures to get a recall election on the ballot.  

The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office places that number at 2,400. 

Regardless, zero of these signatures was considered valid because the petition containing the home addresses of the signees did not list the county as part of their addresses. 

"To find out that the technicality that they would lean on is to say we omitted the county when we asked, it was unsettling," Ladi Goldwire, a former city department head and member of the committee, said. 

Ladi Goldwire, member of Committee to Reclaim Riviera Beach
Ladi Goldwire explains why she and others are upset that the ballots for the recall election were deemed invalid.

The recall effort began in July after committee members accused council member Julia Botel of spreading misinformation about a July Fourth party on Singer Island. 

The group accused Botel, who represents Singer Island, of saying that the party could lead to violence at a party that is attended largely by minorities. 

Goldwire said the recall drive has galvanized many Riviera Beach residents.

"We just really, really believe wholeheartedly that people's eyes are open. They're listening," Goldwire said. "They're turning out to the meetings more. They're holding government accountable." 

Riviera Beach council member Julia Botel
Riviera Beach council member Julia Botel faced backlash after her criticism of the Fourth of July party on Singer Island.

But since those signatures did not include the county as part of the home address, as required by Florida law.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link said she had no choice but to rule the petitions invalid.  

"If we know people are spending good time and good money to make something work, we want it to work for them," Sartory Link said. "But we just have our hands tied. The statute and the rule are pretty clear. We also did, just for good measure, check with the state to make sure there wasn’t a municipal exception that we were unaware of." 

Goldwire said the committee's efforts to get the recall on the ballot will continue when a lawyer will file suit to have the petitions accepted. She said it is a move likely to happen soon. 

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link discusses why the Riviera Beach recall
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link outlines why the recall effort failed in Riviera Beach.

Email the Contact 5 Investigators
Share your news tips and story ideas with WPTV's investigations team.