When Freshman City Commissioner John Valdes of St Augustine floated a proposal for a referendum to be placed on the ballot in the upcoming Presidential Preference Election that would silence the City’s 14,000 voters when it came to selecting their mayor, Historic City News Editorial Board members scratched their heads and asked, “Why?”
Having the two-year elected mayor not only means that local voters decide who will be the highest-ranking elected public official in the city, but also means that the people have the power to change the voting majority of the city commission every two-years.
In a quote attributed to Valdes and published earlier this week, he stated “Whether (the vote) goes one way or another way, it makes little difference in my life.”
Only current mayor Tracy Upchurch and commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline voiced disapproval of the Valdes plan when it was first introduced. Had a vote been taken that night, the remaining three voting commissioners could have moved this bad policy suggestion forward.
As it happened, during the Tuesday, November 12, 2019 commission meeting, the referendum idea was defeated in a unanimous vote — including Valdes who first introduced it.
With that much power in the hands of so few people, three-out-of-five, you would think that every eligible voter would be registered, and every registered elector would vote. We know that is not true, or even close.
The matter could return on a future agenda, but for now, it is a dead duck.