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Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner's replacement brings anger, questions from Democrats

Michael Barnett appointed to District 3, lives in District 4
Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 06, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The move Thursday night by Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint Michael Barnett to replace Dave Kerner on the Palm Beach County Commission has enraged Democrats.

Kerner, a Democrat, was nominated by DeSantis to be executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The move comes about four months after Kerner endorsed the Republican governor in his reelection campaign.

Mindy Koch explains why she believes Michael Barnett's appointment to the Palm Beach County Commission violates the Florida Constitution.
Mindy Koch explains why she believes Michael Barnett's appointment to the Palm Beach County Commission violates the Florida Constitution.

"I hope he's happy with his 30 pieces of silver," Mindy Koch, chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, said. "At the end of the day, he did this for a reason, and it wasn't for the Democratic Party."

Efforts to reach Kerner for comment were not returned on Friday.

His replacement on the board will be Palm Beach County Republican Chair Michael Barnett, who was appointed by DeSantis.

"I am pleased, I am grateful the governor thinks so highly of me as to trust me with this really great responsibility," Barnett said. "As a commissioner, my job is to represent all the people of District Three and the county at large."

Michael Barnett will take over on the Palm Beach Commission following Dave Kerner's appointment to lead the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Michael Barnett will take over on the Palm Beach Commission following Dave Kerner's appointment to lead the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Democrats are questioning the appointment since Barnett lives in District Four, which they said violates the state constitution.

"My understanding is he has to live in his commission district whether he's appointed or elected," Koch said.

Barnett disputes that, saying the residency requirement only applies if he's running in an election.

"The appointment could come from anywhere in the county," Barnett said. "However, I want to fight to keep this seat, expect to run for reelection. At that point, I will have to move to the district."