NATHAN WHITE: It’s Alarming That Three City Council Members Can Take Away the Right of 90,000 Palm Bay Voters
By Nathan White, Palm Bay City Council Candidate // July 15, 2021
WATCH LIVE ON SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Palm Bay City Council meeting set for Thursday at 7 p.m.
ABOVE VIDEO: Space Coast Daily talks with Palm Bay citizens Nathan White, Jaclyn Bounauito, Peter J. Filiberto, Ruth T. Kaufhold and Catherine Chiaradonna about the proposal to supersede the city ordinance that requires vacancies shall be filled via a Special Election to be held between 90 and 180 days following the date of the vacancy occurring.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Palm Bay City Council will conduct a regular meeting on Thursday, July 15, and will consider a proposal to supersede the city ordinance that requires “vacancies shall be filled via a Special Election to be held between 90 and 180 days following the date of the vacancy occurring.” Palm Bay Councilman Jeff Bailey announced his resignation on June 30, and whoever is elected, or appointed, will serve the remainder of Bailey’s Seat 5 term. You can see the meeting agenda HERE. You can watch the meeting live on Space Coast Daily TV starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday. If you would like to attend the meeting, the Palm Bay Council Chambers are located at 120 Malabar Road SE.
By Nathan White,
Palm Bay City Council Candidate
YOUR OPINION – The Palm Bay City Council has decided to take away the right of voters to make their voices heard by enacting election reform and it only took them eight days after the unexpected resignation announced by Councilmember Jeff Bailey to hatch the plan.
The biggest change that the City Attorney along with Council members Kenny Johnson, Donny Felix, and Randy Foster are pushing is a change to the process of filling vacancies on the City Council.
The Palm Bay Code of Ordinances holds that when a vacancy occurs on the City Council and there is more than one year remaining in the term and no general election in that time, a special election will be held. Vacancies shall be filled via a Special Election to be held between 90 and 180 days following the date of the vacancy occurring.
The purpose of the city ordinance is the focus that every city leader should have … the voice of Palm Bay residents.
Not only is representation being suppressed but additional reforms including changes to filing deadlines are being pushed. The most troubling aspect of this is that it allows the city council to change, without meaningful challenge, the rules their potential opponents will have to follow when they run for office.
This proposed change to filling vacancies is being touted as a cost-saving measure for the people of Palm Bay. As a lifelong resident of Palm Bay, I know that we have been sold on cost savings and sacrifices before. Too many times all we received in exchange were lies and empty promises.
Every day as we bump along uneven, unkempt roads we remember the road bond that we have been paying on for over 10 years without significant results. When our trash bins sit gathering flies for days due to missed pickups we remember the promises of better waste management services that never fully materialized. The election reforms being proposed make us feel as uneasy as our roads and smell like the trash we can’t get picked up.
Even a surface look at the agenda for Thursday’s meeting reveals a number of alternative ways the Palm Bay Council can cut spending and reduce waste. $30,000 for a disc golf course while making the argument that we cannot afford a vote of the people is a slap in the face to every Palm Bay resident. The election could only cost $82,000 yet it is less important to this council than the $230,000 in discretionary spending set to be approved at the same meeting.
It is alarming to me that three City Council members can band together to take away the right of nearly 90,000 Palm Bay registered voters to elect their representatives. The proposed ordinance is nothing but an opportunistic power grab to steal the voice of Palm Bay and isolate it in five men. Unlike some on our Council, I trust our voters and will fight for their right to be heard.
We need every citizen of Palm Bay to make their voice heard on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Palm Bay Council Chambers, 120 Malabar Road SE, Palm Bay FL 32907.
It is up to us to preserve our voice on City Council before officials use their position to rob us of our choice in the special election to replace Jeff Bailey.
What Palm Bay residents need is a true commitment to end waste and restore trust in the community. I am and continue to remain focused on reducing wasteful spending. Savings, however, should not come at the cost of our representative form of government. If we sacrifice the voice of the people, what is left to preserve?
My goal is to amplify the voice of the people, to meet them where they are, hear concerns and advocate on their behalf. These are goals I set before I declared my candidacy months ago. These are things I hope to do as an elected Council member, but I can and will start now as a concerned citizen.
Join me Thursday night in speaking up for the people of Palm Bay.
– Nathan White