• Extend the time to hold a special election to fill a mayoral or commission vacancy to 90 days from 45, and, in the event of a mayoral vacancy, to transfer some of the mayor’s powers to the commission chair, vice chair or someone else chosen by the commission. Currently, there is no chain of command should the mayor leave office between elections.
• Give the commission chair authority over procurement decisions if the mayor has a conflict of interest. Currently, the mayor can approve contracts up to $1 million for goods and services and $5 million for construction, and can recommend bid waivers for contracts. If the mayor has a conflict, the procurement is handled by deputies — though they cannot recommend bid waivers.
Proponents of the measure say deputy mayors should not handle the procurements because they ultimately answer to their boss — the mayor. Opponents say delegating the mayor’s powers, including bid waivers, to the commission chair creates the potential for a voting member of the board to curry favor.
• Allow the county to move forward with a plan to give the Crandon Park Tennis Center a nearly $50 million facelift. The upgrades would be funded by organizers of the Sony Open tennis tournament and tournament revenues. The organizers would in turn extend their lease to a total of 30 years with two optional 10-year extensions. The current lease would otherwise expire in nine years.
The ballot also includes two non-binding questions:
• To increase the property-tax rate to keep some 20,000 cats and dogs from being euthanized. The proposal would create what has become known as the “Pets’ Trust.”
• To prohibit the county from hiring companies that “actively” do business with state sponsors of terrorism. The question comes on the heels of a similar Florida law approved earlier this year restricting hiring of companies tied to Cuba or Syria. A federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional; the state has appealed.
Term limits, though, are at the forefront of the county questions on the lengthy ballot, which is also packed with 11 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution.
Until Jean Monestime defeated a controversy-plagued Dorrin Rolle in 2010, no sitting county commissioner had lost a reelection bid in 16 years — in part because people, organizations and companies that regularly do business with the county contribute so much to commissioners’ campaigns that challengers often can’t compete.
The commission has seen more turnover than usual in the wake of last year’s recall of Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissioner Natacha Seijas. Two new commissioners were elected last year, and a third will join the board after the Nov. 6 runoff for an open seat. Two incumbents also face runoffs.
Opponents point to that turnover as a sign that term limits are unnecessary. A commissioner can be voted out of office every four years, they argue, and term limits could force out knowledgeable commissioners.
“I don’t want a commissioner to get elected and think they don’t have to face an election in four years,” said Terry Murphy, a charter review task force member and former aide to Seijas. “They could make decisions that would benefit them after leaving office.”