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Riviera Beach Councilwoman Julia Botel booted from ballot

Appeals court finds she improperly paid her filing fee, which disqualifies her
Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-27 18:16:42-05

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Riviera Beach City Councilwoman Julia Botel has been off, then on, and now apparently will be back off the ballot, all but ending her chances to win reelection.

Her opponent challenged her eligibility, and on Tuesday the three judges on Florida's Fourth Court of Appeals ruled she is not eligible to be on the ballot for next month's election.

Botel paid her filing fee with a cashier's check, and by law, candidates can only pay filing fees with a check from a candidate's political campaign.

The three-judge panel reversed a lower court's ruling putting Botel back on the ballot declaring her ineligible with the conclusion.

"We recognize this result is hard. But (the law) is clear and it is not for us to rewrite a statute to save a party in such a situation," the ruling stated. "We must enforce the law as written. Dr. Botel's failure to submit a properly executed check drawn on her campaign account precluded her from qualifying as a candidate."

Read the full ruling below:

Botel represents the Singer Island district of Riviera Beach and is popular among the island's full-time residents who say she's fought for extra police patrols among other services.

However, her actions have also been controversial.

She was censured by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021 after ethics complaints that she used her city council office to solicit money for her charity from vendors who do business with the city.

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Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Link said she'll meet with lawyers about the ruling keeping Botel off the ballot.

With elections a month away, Link said the ballots are printed and Botel's name is on them, including some instances where people have already voted with absentee ballots.

Link said any votes for Botel will not count and voters will be made aware of that with signs at polling places.

Botel has two days to appeal the ruling,

She has not returned calls or texts from WPTV asking if she'll appeal the ruling.

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