The City of Port St. Joe’s May ballot will include two referendums that city commissioners have been waiting to have answers on for more than two years.
Because the city’s past two election cycles did not include contested races, Port St. Joe residents had to wait to vote on several pieces of pending legislation – including a measure that would extend city commission terms to four years and a measure that would change election dates to coincide with the county’s November elections.
But with five candidates qualified to run in one of the city’s three upcoming elections, the Gulf County Supervisor of Elections’ office is preparing to have the measures put up for a vote.
“The city charter says you can’t actually put a referendum on the ballot unless you’ve got a candidate’s race,” said Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon.
“I’ve already got the verbiage on them and everything, and since it looks like we’re looking like we’re going to have a candidate race, those two referendums will go on the ballot.”
City commissioners voted on the two referendum measures in early 2021, with the dual goals of saving money spent by the city to conduct elections and increasing voter turnout, said City Attorney Clinton McCahill.
“It would save money, and it would also hopefully increase turnout, because there would be other races on the ballot,” said McCahill, “say president, county commissioner, all the other races that could be on there.”
Both referendums look to amend Article 2, Section 13 of the city’s charter, which specifies the details of city elections.
If placed on the ballot, the questions put up to voters will read as follows:
“Shall Article 2, Section 13 of the Charter of the City of Port St. Joe, Florida be amended to lengthen from two years to four years the terms of the mayor commissioner and each commissioner in the City of Port St. Joe?”
“Shall Article 2, Section 13 and Article IV, Section 123 of the Charter of the City of Port St. Joe, Florida be amended to change the General and Runoff Election dates from the second Tuesday in May and two weeks later to the Tuesday eleven weeks prior to the possible Runoff Election which would be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November with the winning candidate to begin his or her term the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January?”
Voters will be able to vote either yes or no on both referendums.
If passed, the new legislation will take effect upon the next city election in 2024.