Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
August 22, 2019 – 10:00 a.m.
As expected, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved Resolution 2019-135 at its August 20, 2019 Regular Meeting. This Resolution established the official qualifying dates of July 13, 2020, through July 17, 2020 for the 2020 City of Fernandina Beach General Election, which will be held on November 3, 2020.
The Qualifying Period is the window of time for candidates to pay fees and file required paperwork and with the City Clerk. Any potential candidate who has not qualified by either paying a Qualifying Fee of $360 or provided 108 valid petitions prior to noon on Friday, July 3, 2019, is ineligible to seek elected office in the city in 2020.
All candidates must pay the Election Assessment Fee of $120.
The 2020 Election marks the first time that three City Commissioners will be selected by the voters. The change in terms from three to four years was approved by the voters in 2013, but it was phased in over time. Commissioners Phil Chapman and Chip Ross are the last two commissioners who were elected to three year terms. With the change in term length, city commission terms are now in sync with terms of County Commissioners and School Board Members.
Of the three seats that will be contested in 2020, at least two will have no incumbent commissioner. Mayor-Commissioner John Miller will have completed two 4-year terms and by City Charter may not seek reelection at this time. Commissioner Phil Chapman has indicated he does not choose to pursue reelection. Only Commissioner Chip Ross has yet to indicate whether he will or will not seek reelection. Vice Mayor Len Kreger and Commissioner Mike Lednovich, who were elected to their seats in 2018, will continue to serve and will be eligible to be considered for the position of Mayor on the straw ballot, also conducted at the time of the General Election.
City Attorney Tammi Bach attempted to clear up confusion over how soon candidates may formally declare their intention to run. The bottom line is that as soon as an individual opens a campaign account, s/he can start collecting petitions, raising money and campaigning. There is no need to wait until the Qualifying Period.
For complete information on becoming a candidate in the City of Fernandina Beach, visit the City Clerk’s website and follow up with City Clerk Caroline Best at (904) 310-3115 or email [email protected].