Charter amendment bill passes two committees; Alachua county commissioners react

Charter amendment bill passes two committees; Alachua county commissioner react
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 6:26 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Leave it up to the voters is State Representative Chuck Clemon’s approach for his proposal to change Alachua County’s charter.

“My role is not to advocate for it or against it,” said Clemons.

HB 1493 is on its way to one last committee before hitting the house floor for a vote. If the proposal makes the November ballot, voters would say yes or no to single-member district representation on the Alachua County Commission. Voters currently elect all five commissioners but would only elect in their district if the proposal passes.

“My role in this particular situation is to place it, get it placed on the ballot for the people to decide,” added Clemons.

“I’m not gonna stick my hand on the proverbial scales to determine one way or the other. I think we’re going to place it out there for the public and then let the best idea win at the ballot box.”

It received bipartisan and unanimous support in the local administration and veterans affairs and the public integrity and elections committees.

RELATED STORY: Proposal to expand Alachua BOCC and add single-member districts heading to Tallahassee

“There’s some folks that feel that they are underrepresented or not represented at all by the current make-up of the county commission,” said Clemons. “Whether that’s true or whether that’s not true that’s yet to be determined. They feel like they’re not being represented and this is just a way that’s bringing forward another idea of representation. They can vote it up or they can vote it down.”

Among some Alachua County commissioners, the proposal doesn’t have support.

“And we think that’s bad governance, we believe they know it’s bad governance,” Commissioner Ken Cornell.

The county’s Charter Review board rejected a single-member district ballot proposal in 20-20. The bill sent Commission Chair Marihelen Wheeler to oppose it in Tallahassee. It’s where she told the House Committee that Alachua county voters don’t want the change.

“If it’s so important then we would ask that the citizens, 10% of them as our charter lays out, do the hard work, get the petitions signed and put it on the ballot,” added Cornell. “And I will tell you if that work is done, this commissioner would support that process. We support the process that our charter lays out for changing our local constitution.”

The last committee stop is at the State Affairs committee.

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