While Christmas shopping and downtown redevelopment may be on the top of most peoples’ minds this week, some residents are thinking about the two seats that will be open on Town Council in March – two have already filed their paperwork and begun gathering petitions.
“Anyone can announce their candidacy at any time, but until they have filed the paperwork they cannot collect signatures, accept contributions or make expenditures,” said Town Clerk Michelle Mayher. “So far, two people have filed paperwork with the Lee County Clerk of Court’s office – Tracey Gore and Suzanne Katt.”
Residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, March 15th 2016 to vote for Council seats held by Alan Mandel and Dan Andre. Per our Town Charter – since Mandel has served two terms, he is not eligible for re-election unless he sits out one three-year cycle. Andre, who is eligible, has not said yet whether he will run again.
Mayher explained that there are two ways to qualify as a candidate – by petition or by paying a qualification fee. Both are required to pay the election assessment fee of $144 (or 1% of a councilmember’s $14,440 annual salary) unless they can prove a hardship via state statute 99.093.
“For those qualifying by petition, they must first appoint a campaign treasurer (candidates can serve as their own treasurers) and designate a campaign depository before they can begin collecting petitions,” Michelle told us. “Then they must collect at least 51 signatures (10% of the Town’s 5,054 registered voters) and deliver them to the main office of the Lee County Supervisor of Elections no later than noon on Monday, December 28th. The Supervisor will certify the petitions no later than January 18th, 2016. Candidates are encouraged to collect more than the 51 required signatures as some of them may not be valid.”
Within 10 days of opening the campaign file, a Statement of Candidate form must also be filed. Monthly campaign treasurer’s reports must be filed – with the last one due the day after the last day to collect contributions, March 10th – even if the candidate accepts no contributions or makes no expenditures.
The signatures collected by those seeking to qualify by petition must be from actual registered voters living within the limits of the Town of Fort Myers Beach (the island itself) and the Supervisor of Elections will qualify each one. This costs 10 cents per signature, so potential candidates will need to drop their checks off with their signatures on the 28th.
Those who wish to run for Council and simply pay the qualification fee have a bit more time as their $576 (3% of annual Councilmember salary, or $432 plus the $144 election assessment fee) can be turned in as late as noon on Friday, January 29th, 2016 as Qualifying Week for the March election officially begins at noon on Monday, January 25, 2016
Anyone interested in running for office must be a resident of the Town for at least one year and be a registered voter. All elections for the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach are non-partisan. All seats are at large and the top two vote getters will be declared winners. Election signs may be erected no earlier than 30 days prior to the election and must be removed within 10 days after.
Complete details on forms, requirements and deadlines are available at Town Hall or on the Town‘s website fortmyersbeachfl.gov
Keri Hendry Weeg