Should elected officials have to resign if they decide to run for another office?
That question is at the center of debates in both our state and city governments, with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry taking a very different position than that of elected leaders in Tallahassee.
Curry has begun pushing for a requirement for elected officials in Jacksonville to resign from their office immediately upon qualifying to run for another elected position in city government.
Curry on Twitter announced he wants Jacksonville voters to weigh in on tightening the city’s ‘resign to run’ requirement by putting a straw poll on the March ballot.
To Councilman Matt Carlucci (R-Group 4 At-Large), the proposal stinks of politics.
“To me, they’re politically driven; they’re not driven by what’s best for our quality of life in Jacksonville,” said Carlucci.
Meanwhile, in Tallahassee, Florida’s new House Speaker and Senate president were asked whether they’d consider loosening the state’s resign to run law, to ensure Gov. Ron DeSantis could stay in office should he mount a run for president.
The answer was a resounding yes.
“I think he should be allowed to do it. I really do,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples).
“I think that’s a great idea,” said House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast).
Under current state law DeSantis would have to submit a non-revokable resignation letter upon qualifying for the race, effective no later than his first day in office should he win the presidency.
Win, lose or draw, he’d have to cut his final term as governor short unless the legislature tweaks the statute.
It wouldn’t be the first time lawmakers have tinkered with the state’s ‘resign to run’ law.
University of North Florida political science professor Dr. Michael Binder noted the law was softened when then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist was rumored to be a potential vice presidential candidate for Sen. John McCain.
“They tightened it back up a few years ago, and now they’re thinking about moving the goalpost yet again,” said Binder.
To Binder, the contrast between Jacksonville’s Republican mayor and the Republican state legislature is glaring.
“You know what’s good for thee is great, but if it’s not good for me, it’s a problem,” said Binder.
Ultimately Curry’s legislation is in the hands of city council.
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Even if it passes and voters support the idea on the March ballot, the Florida legislature would have to approve the change to the city charter.