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Wed, May 01

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Lehigh Acres

County Commissioners Single Member District Discussion - Speak out against bigger government!

There is a push to change our five at-large county Commissioner Board members to single district members with two additional at-large county commissioners growing the BOCC to 7 members. An additional component under discussion is a move from a appointed/hired County manager to a Super Mayor.

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County Commissioners Single Member District Discussion - Speak out against bigger government!
County Commissioners Single Member District Discussion - Speak out against bigger government!

Time & Location

May 01, 2024, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Lehigh Acres, 601 East County Lane, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936, USA

About the event

The current county charter authorizes three mechanisms by which a change to our government structure may be placed on the ballot for consideration and vote by the residents of Lee County. The first mechanism would be if a majority of the County Commissioners voted to place it on the ballot. The second method is if the Charter Review Committee voted to place it on the ballot, and the third by petition of 40% of the registered voters in Lee County.

A majority of the county commissioners voted against the single district approach as did 11 of the appointed members to the Charter Review Committee (only 2 voted in favor and they were appointed by the single commissioner who voted in favor of the change.). To date, no effort has been made to try the petition route. Instead, our state legislators in Lee County have taken upon it upon themselves to circumvent the local process and bring it to Tallahassee for all of Florida to decide whether this initiative to our local government should be on the ballot.

The argument that has been offered is that the voters should have a say. But the voters have had a say by voting in their county commissioners, who in turn appointed the charter review committee members. Further, the voters have not had a say, because the petition process has not even been considered. The argument by those in favor is that smaller districts and local government closer to the people is better. It is, however, the height of hypocrisy that they make this argument when they are taking the decision regarding this proposed ballot referendum from the local charter process and jumping it to all the legislators in Tallahassee from all over Florida.

This change would be a big increase in government with no clear indication of benefit to anybody except individual candidates, who would not have to campaign countywide if it passed. This would defray candidate costs but also decrease their interaction with the entire community as they campaign. Once a candidate is elected, they represent and make decisions for the entire county. I personally am disinclined to water down my vote from 5 out of 5 commissioners to less than a majority (only 3 out of 7). It should be noted that two additional commissioners, their staff and other expenses would be added to our tax responsibilities with no clear indication of a benefit to the community. We all need to ask ourselves who benefits the most from this. Can you imagine having a majority of commissioners, over whom you have no voting authority, making decision contrary to your desires and best interest?

There's also a push to change the county manager from a hired/appointed position to an elected one. This would, in the current form of the proposal, result in a super mayor with no term limits, no recall option, and veto authority. Might as well make him King!

This proposed changes mirror what we have at the Lee County School District. In that setting, I have found board members, for whom I cannot vote, regularly dismiss my comments and rarely interact with anyone who can’t vote for them.

I am looking into the feasibility of weighted votes by district. Ask me more about this!

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