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4 referendums on Lake Worth Beach ballot for March 8 election

Questions addresses term limits, run-offs
Posted at 1:40 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 19:47:22-05

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — Voters in Lake Worth Beach will have multiple decisions to make when they cast their ballot at Tuesday's election.

In addition to selecting the commissioner seat for District 4, voters will have to answer four ballot questions.

The questions could bring some big changes to city hall.

Lake Worth Beach's new mayor talked Friday about the questions on the ballot.

Lake Worth Beach Mayor Betty Resch
Mayor Betty Resch explains the importance of the March 8 election in Lake Worth Beach.

"We realized and took a look at the fact that the charter hadn't been amended for quite a long time," Mayor Betty Resch said.

Resch was part of the wave of progressive-leaning candidates who elections last year in Lake Worth Beach. They are now serving up more change with the four referendums, including the call for term limits.

"It will hopefully encourage people to come because there won't be the same incumbent who's been there 30 years," Resch said. "No. 2, it is a graceful way to exit after two terms and No. 3, if you know you have a deadline you work harder."

Other questions being posed to voters aim to bring change to runoffs, how commission vacancies are filled and changing how commission members are selected from city-wide voting to single-member district voting.

Omari Hardy, former Lake Worth Beach city commissioner
Omari Hardy would like to see more commissioners of color representing Lake Worth Beach.

Omari Hardy is a former city commissioner who now lives in Washington, D.C.

Two years ago Hardy confronted the former mayor over proposed utility disconnections during the pandemic.

It sparked a wave of change in Lake Worth Beach with citizen candidates. Hardy said it needs to continue, especially if the proposed changes encourage electing commissioners of color.

"The city almost has two different sides to it. There is east of Dixie Highway, and there is west of Dixie Highway, and unfortunately in these local elections, a majority of the vote is coming from a minority of the people," Hardy said.

In a city that's already seen change, and could see more, residents will get to decide on more changes in city hall on March 8.

Below is a breakdown of the four questions on the ballot:

The first question addresses term limits for elected officials in the city.

Question No. 1:

"Shall the city of Lake Worth Beach amend its charter at Article III, Section 2 to provide that no person may serve more than a maximum of 12 consecutive years as a city elected official and that no person may serve more than two consecutive full terms as mayor or commissioner wherein the offices of mayor and commissioner will be considered separate offices for the purpose of such consecutive term limits?"

Currently, there are no term limits in the city's charter. This question would allow a commissioner or mayor to serve only two, three-year terms in a row, then have to wait for 23 months before running again for the same seat. A commissioner could run for mayor or a mayor for commissioner after serving six years, but the maximum time they could serve would be 12 years after which time they would have to sit out for 23 months.

The second question addresses the ability for a candidate to not participate in a run-off, even if they are eligible.

Question No. 2:

"Shall the city of Lake Worth Beach amend its charter at Article V, Section 4 to provide that a candidate who qualifies for a run-off election is authorized to concede the run-off election within 48 hours of the certification of the election results thereby doing away with the need for a run-off election and allowing the remaining candidate to be duly elected?"

Concession is not addressed in the city's charter. In 2019, the candidate who was in second place after the general election conceded, but the city had a run-off election to ensure compliance with the charter.

The third question addresses the selection of commissioners by the district.

Question No. 3:

"Shall the city of Lake Worth Beach amend its charter at Article II, Section 1 to provide for single-member district voting wherein each commissioner shall be elected by the voters residing in his or her own district, and will continue to represent the entire city and with the mayor continuing to be elected by the voters of the city-at-large?"

District commissioners are currently elected at-large, meaning that all voters in the city vote for each commissioner. Many cities have single-member district voting where only the voters living in that district can vote for the commissioner for that district. Each commissioner would continue to represent the entire city and the mayor would continue to be elected at-large.

The final question on the ballot addresses the filling of vacancies on the city commission.

Question No. 4:

"Shall the city of Lake Worth Beach amend its charter at Article III, Section 5 to provide that when the city commission is required to fill a vacancy on the commission by appointment, such appointment shall be made by the remaining members of the commission no later than 24 hours prior to the opening of the qualifying period for the next city election?"

The charter does not specify a specific time for filling a commission vacancy beyond the overall time between a vacancy and the next election. This amendment would add language that an appointment to fill a commission vacancy would have to be made before the start of the qualifying period.

Click here to look at the sample ballot for the Lake Worth Beach election.

Click here for polling locations.