Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, who has battled the County Commission that sets her budget, announced Tuesday that she will seek reelection in 2016.
“I am going to throw my hat in the ring again,” Snipes said.
Snipes’ intentions had been a big mystery for months — she repeatedly told the Miami Herald she was on the fence about whether to seek reelection and Democratic activists had no insight as to which way she was leaning.
But Snipes, a 72-year-old Democrat, contacted the Herald Tuesday to announce that she had decided to seek reelection. She said what prompted her decision was an apparent proposal by a county commissioner to change her position from elected to appointed.
However, it is unclear how seriously any such proposal is at this point. On Monday, the political blog browardbeat.com published a post by a Democratic activist who wrote that a commissioner plans to propose changing the position to appointed, but the blog didn't name the commissioner.
And the most the County Commission can do is vote — if six of the nine commissioners agree — to place a charter amendment on the ballot for voters’ consideration in 2016. The charter commission could also put a question on the ballot, but that couldn’t happen until 2018. In most Florida counties the position is elected; however, in Miami-Dade, the mayor appoints the elections supervisor.
Broward County administration officials Tuesday were unaware of any such proposal to look at changing the supervisor’s position from elected to appointed, but a spokeswoman for Mayor Tim Ryan said it isn’t him. Commissioners were in meetings all day.
County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, who has been one of the most vocal commissioner critics of Snipes, could not be immediately reached for comment. Ritter, of Parkland, told the Herald earlier this year that despite rumors, she never considered running for the supervisor’s position and is running for reelection. During the 2014 general election, Ritter criticized Snipes for starting early voting at 7 a.m. on weekends, which she tweeted was a “waste of time/$.”
Snipes said she hadn’t spoken with any commissioners regarding the purported idea to change her job to appointed.
“I don’t agree with it at all,” Snipes said. “As far as our office, we have operated for all people in Broward County. We’ve never been partisan.”
However, the criticism leveled at Snipes has generally not been about party politics — only one of the county commissioners, Chip LaMarca, is a Republican. Instead, Snipes has faced criticism over how she operates elections and has battled with the commission about her budget.
Earlier this year, the county declared an impasse in negotiations for a new elections headquarters site, putting the decade-old discussion aside once again. Snipes also faced criticism for how she handled scheduling the County Commission District 2 election, which ended up in a low-turnout special election as a result of a court battle about write-in candidates.
Snipes was first appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 and won elections in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Since 2016 is a presidential year, Democrats running countywide have a major advantage in left-leaning Broward.
Snipes was the last of the county constitutional officers to declare her intentions: Clerk of Courts Howard Forman and Property Appraiser Lori Parrish are retiring while Sheriff Scott Israel is running for reelection.
No one has filed to run for the supervisor’s position — the field had remained wide open while potential contenders awaited Snipes’ decision. Though Snipes has faced public criticism, there has been a perception that others are reluctant to take on a Democratic black woman who has won election three times.
“I don’t know what this does to the field but I do believe anyone considering this office will probably now hesitate,” Broward Democratic chairman Mitch Ceasar said.
Snipes said she told her staff in person Tuesday morning while at the elections warehouse in Lauderhill that she plans to run.
Why were they at that site rather than the downtown offices at County Hall?
Snipes said an apparent air-conditioning leak on the fourth floor trickled down to the first floor and flooded her offices. She anticipates that her staff won’t return to County Hall for a few days.