County voters will be asked to consider six amendments to the county charter that deal with elections, the petition drive process and creating a new municipality. Here are our recommendations:
1. Nonpartisan election of Clerk of the Circuit Court
This amendment would end partisan primaries for the position of Miami-Dade Clerk of the Court. Harvey Ruvin, a Democrat, has held this office since 1992 and has been reelected five times. Here’s the reasoning for the change: All other county offices face nonpartisan primaries. That means every candidate runs regardless of party affiliation. But the clerk’s office is the exception. The amendment would switch the position to a nonpartisan office for the next clerk’s election in 2020. This will bring the office in line with the others and could cut back on potential partisan appeals. Ruvin supports the measure. So do we.
County referendum 1: YES
2. County-appointed officials and employees for certain elective offices.
The charter currently requires that county appointed or county employees qualifying to run for federal, state or city level elections take a leave of absence and if elected, resign. If approved by voters, employees would only have to take a leave of absence during an election only if they are running for county office, meaning the employees could serve at the federal, state and city levels. Good idea. It can help prevent staffers from using their county positions to curry favor with voters.
County referendum 2: YES
3. Review of initiatory petitions for legal sufficiency
This amendment screams practicality. It would require county attorneys to weigh in on the legality of a proposed ordinance before it becomes the subject of a petition drive. Duh. Currently, the charter lets voters approve ordinances by referendum if enough voters sign petitions to put the item on a ballot. If passed, the ordinances must remain on the books for a year before the commission can alter or repeal them.
County referendum 3: YES
4. Elections for county commissioner and mayor
This would allow the Elections Department not to count votes for unopposed, disqualified, dead or withdrawn candidates. The county already follows this procedure, citing state law. But the county’s charter is mostly silent on the matter. This amendment would add language explicitly authorizing the practice. It would also endorse canceling elections for candidates who run unopposed, which the county also does already. This wasn’t in the books already? It should be.
County referendum 4: YES
5. Prohibiting certain payments circulators of circulators of initiatory petitions
This measure asks for the charter to be amended to prohibit any person circulating an initiatory petition from paying or offering to pay any individual or organization or receive payments related to the number of signatures obtained for circulating the petition and invalidates any petition collected in violation of the prohibition. This measure will impact the signature-petition gathering process.
County referendum 5: YES
6. New municipality in Northeast Miami-Dade
The question posed to all Miami-Dade voters is whether Miami-Dade commissioners should authorize the creating of a new municipality in the area of northeast Miami-Dade with the following boundaries: northern boundary: the county line on the north; Aventura city limits on Biscayne Boulevard on the east; North Miami Beach city limits on the south; and Interstate 95 on the west. This area is a non-identifiable blob. This could eventually give the area an identity. And yes, it will cost. But let the 11,000 voters impacted decide if they want to incorporate.
County referendum 6: YES