Homestead voters on Tuesday approved three changes to the city charter affecting the vice mayor’s seat and vacancies on the council.
▪ Under the first charter change, the vice mayor will be selected by the City Council instead of by residents on election day.
The old charter allowed anyone to run for vice mayor but any candidate also had to run for a council seat too. The vice mayor seat comes with a two-year term, but it is not attached to a particular district. Technically, anyone who ran for vice mayor had to run for two seats — a district council seat and the seat of the vice mayor.
Confused? That’s why the council wanted to change the charter. The margin of approval was razor-thin; the charter amendment passed with 50.02 percent of the vote.
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▪ The second charter amendment will require the vice mayor to assume the responsibilities of the mayor if the mayor dies or leaves office, instead of having the liberty to decline the responsibilities.
Previously, the charter also said that if the vice mayor accepted the responsibilities of the mayor, he or she cannot return to their original council seat upon the mayor’s return, if the leave was temporary. The charter amendments now says that the vice mayor can return to his or her seat if the mayor returns or if one is elected.
The legislation passed with 75.04 percent of the vote.
▪ And lastly, the third charter amendment allows for any empty council seat to be filled by a City Council appointment until the next election is held. It passed with 67.65 percent of the vote.
The charter previously said that the empty seat would be filled by appointment only if there was a year or less left in the seat’s term. If more than a year remained in the term, a special election would have had to be held for that seat.