The mayor of Homestead submitted a resignation letter Thursday, effective Jan. 7, 2019, after announcing he will enter the race for Florida agriculture commissioner.
Jeff Porter, who has served as mayor since 2013, also served as a councilman from 1997 to 2007.
His resignation letter came 10 days before the state’s qualifying period begins on June 18. To run for office, he has to resign from his current elected post, in accordance with Florida’s newly amended “resign-to-run” law. The law changed this year to force politicians holding local and state seats to resign if they want to run for a higher office with a term that overlaps their current term.
Porter, a Democrat, is seeking the seat held by agriculture commissioner Adam Putman, a Republican, who is engaged in a tightly contested Republican primary race for governor against Rep. Ron DeSantis, a three-term House member from Jacksonville.
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The primary election is Aug. 28; the general election is Nov. 6.
Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley will transition into the mayor’s position come January. Shelly would then recommend someone to fill the vacant seat on the dais, which the council would have to vote on. That person would serve as a council member until the city’s elections in November 2019.
According to his city biography, Porter, 58, is a Homestead native who spent part of his childhood in Mississippi before returning to attend Miami Dade College. He has lived in Homestead since.
Porter told the Herald Thursday his hope is to “better represent and fund the southeastern tip of the country."
"The agriculture industry has just been decimated. Over the last 20 or 30 years, farmers have gone out of business and I just don’t understand,” he said. “This area of the country, inside our borders, is the only place where we can grow produce in the winter to feed the nation, yet we’ve become totally reliant on food that comes from foreign countries. It’s almost like a national security issue.”
An email from the campaign noted that Homestead is one of the leading agricultural cities in Miami-Dade County, which is second only to Palm Beach County in agricultural products sold in Florida.
Also in the Democratic primary to succeed Putnam is South Florida environmentalist David Walker.
The three Republican candidates in the race are State Rep. Matt Caldwell of North Fort Myers, Sen. Denise Grimsley of Lake Placid and former state Rep. Baxter Troutman of Winter Haven.