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TMCNet:  Ballot questions defeated in Fort Lauderdale, Parkland and Pembroke Pines

[November 07, 2012]

Ballot questions defeated in Fort Lauderdale, Parkland and Pembroke Pines

Nov 07, 2012 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Fort Lauderdale won't be changing when its commissioners are elected and Parkland commissioners still can't appoint someone to fill a commission vacancy.


Those were two local ballot measures defeated on Tuesday. Voters in six Broward cities had a total of 28 charter amendments to consider, with all but six being approved.

Fort Lauderdale voters rejected a proposal to eliminate commission primary races, to move commission elections from March to November starting in 2018, and to expand commission terms from three to four years. Voters also said no to allowing commissioners to sell surplus city property for economic development or affordable housing purposes without getting bids first.

While some opponents didn't mind switching the commission elections from March to November, the measure would also have meant an increase in term limits from nine years to 12.

Former Commissioner Tim Smith, one of the leading opponents of the measure, said he liked parts of the proposal and hoped a reworked version could be presented to voters in the future.

"On first glimpse it was a good thing," Smith said of the idea of moving the elections to November. "You can't fill it up with other things that might be controversial, like extending the terms." In Parkland, voters rejected the two amendments on the ballot.

Like Fort Lauderdale, which had proposed eliminating primary elections to cut down costs, Parkland was seeking to give commissioners the ability to fill a commission vacancy without having to hold a special election as a cost-saving measure.

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine had voted against the proposal in the first place and he wasn't surprised that voters turned it down.

"Voters always like to be able to pick [for] themselves," Udine said. "Voters want to be the ones to choose who represents them." The second amendment rejected by Parkland voters would have allowed commissioners to reduce the number of bids it seeks from consultants for commission redistricting that is done every four years.

The only other city to see voters reject some charter questions was Pembroke Pines, where two of seven amendments on the ballot were defeated.

Voters said no to increasing the charter review board from a five-member board that meets every five years to an 11-member board that meets every six years. They also opposed changing the city's redistricting period from every four years to every 10 years following the census.

Commissioners said the larger review board would have fostered more ideas and viewpoints.

"We felt that an increased number meant more diversity, not only of backgrounds and education but also in thought process," Commissioner Iris Siple said.

Besides the five measures approved in Pembroke Pines, Cooper City voters approved seven ballot questions, Hallandale Beach six and North Lauderdale four.

Among the items approved: Cooper City commissioners will be elected from within single-member district instead of citywide.

North Lauderdale commissioners will now be able to appoint someone to fill a commission vacancy rather than hold a special election, no matter how much time is left in the unfinished term.

Pembroke Pines commissioners will now be able to appoint someone to fill a commission vacancy if less than six months remains in the term. They can hold a special election if a regular election isn't already scheduled to take place within six months of a vacancy.

Hallandale Beach commissioners will now run for numbered seats, instead of at-large where seats are grouped together and the top vote-getters win. The seats will still be elected citywide.

Staff writers Heather Carney, Lisa Huriash, Susannah Bryan and Tonya Alanez contributed to this report.

lbarszewski@tribune.com or 954-356-4556 ___ (c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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