South Miami

South Miami seeks to move city elections to March; referendum would be needed

In an effort to get voters to the polls and make campaigning more comfortable, the South Miami commission suggests changing the city’s polling process.

The main item

With Mayor Philip Stoddard absent, the city commission voted 3-1 to draft an amendment to its city charter to change the city’s official election month from February to March. Some officials say they’d prefer not to campaign during the December holidays before an election. The item is subject to a referendum of the city’s electorate to approve the amendment and will be placed on the ballot at the next election, on Feb. 9, 2016.

The commission also agreed on first reading to move the early voting period to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 6. The qualifying period for candidates would be moved to Dec. 2 through Dec. 8.

Commissioner Josh Liebman would prefer the election be moved to November, to draw more voters and save money.

“We should do what is best for the voters, not what is best for the commission,” Liebman said. “What is best for voters is best for the city of South Miami. I do not know what the commission is so afraid of and why they put it on a February ballot as opposed to November ballot when the turnout will be three times higher. A November election will cost the city half as much. I do not understand how one can argue against higher voter turnout and saving the city money.”

Other business

▪ Withdrawn: Commissioner Bob Welsh pulled his sponsored resolution to place a nonbinding straw ballot question on the election ballot for Tuesday, Feb. 9, to determine whether the electorate support the building of a new city hall, police station and library, using funds from a sale, or other transaction, of city property, and how the funds from the transaction should be spent.

▪ Prius purchase: The commission consented to authorize City Manager Steven Alexander to purchase two 2016 Toyota Prius from Alan Jay Toyota Import Center, piggybacking off its agreement with the Florida Sheriff’s Association contract. The vehicles will be used for the parking division and clerk of courts’ license plate recognition system.

▪ Dr. Smood: The commission deferred a resolution for a special-use approval to permit a Dr. Smood healthy café at 5801 Sunset Dr.

They said it

“Often in real-estate you have to play a waiting game,” Commissioner Bob Welsh said on the dais. “If the commission is ever unanimous about selling this land, and investors feel secure about the validity and zoning enough to give us something in the order of $70 million, then I will put the issue of the sale back in front of the voters. I withdraw my resolution calling for straw ballot. There just haven’t been any large offers in my mind to make all the hassle of selling this place worth it.”

The next meeting

▪ When: 7 p.m. Nov. 17

▪ Where: South Miami City Hall, 6130 Sunset Dr.