Palm Coast City Council member Frank Meeker’s term doesn’t expire until November 2014–29 months from now. But even though Meeker announced his resignation from the council last month (to run for the Flagler County Commission), the council will not hold an election to fill out Meeker’s term. Rather, it will appoint a successor in November, when Meeker’s resignation becomes effective.
The reason: Meeker decided to serve until the last possible day he could on the council, thus pre-empting an election, as required by the city charter, when a seat becomes vacant with more than half the term remaining. That election could have been held concurrently with the Aug. 14 primary and the Nov. 6 general election–as it is being held for the seat Milissa Holland, the county commissioner, is vacating, even though Holland, too, will be serving until November. Meeker is running for Holland’s seat.
“I guess I thought I wanted to serve as much time as I was elected to do,” Meeker said, explaining his decision. “It’s not like I had a lot of time thinking about it, and it’s done. It is what it is.”
Meeker has been thinking for a very long time about moving from the city council to county commission, but Holland only made her decision to run at the 11th hour, as the qualifying window was closing. Meeker said he had to think fast. He was in Georgia at the time, visiting his mother. He wrote his letter of resignation, and put down an effective resignation date of November.
“I was dealing with other issues at the time,” Meeker said. “I looked at other letters of resignation and how they were handled and just followed the format. There was no ill intent to do things one way or another.”
Had Meeker made his resignation effective at the time when he announced his run for the commission, the council would then have, by charter, been compelled to hold an election to fill out the term.
The city council faced similar situations in the past. When Jon Netts resigned his council seat to run for mayor in 2007, that seat was filled not by appointment, but with an election–with Meeker, ironically, winning the election, serving out the two years remaining on that term, then running unopposed in 2009. Meeker’s four-year term was extended to five years (along with that of Bill Lewis) when a referendum last year changed Palm Coast’s election schedule to coincide with national elections and save the city money.
The council has also filled vacated seats by appointment, as it did when Alan Peterson resigned to run for the county commission in 2008. That’s the model the council is following this year for Meeker’s seat.
The council is soliciting letters of interests and resumes from any qualified Palm Coast resident. To be qualified, the resident must live in Meeker’s district–District 2, which is roughly northeast Palm Coast: north of Palm Coast Parkway, east of I-95 and Matanzas Woods Parkway. The city is also sending solicitation letters to any residents of that area who have graduated from the city’s citizen’s academy, and to current members of city boards (planning and zoning, code enforcement, beautification, leisure services.)
The city council will review the applications, rank them and return them to the city clerk, who will draw up a short list of applicants. Those applicants will be interviewed by the council, in public. The council will then rank the remaining applicants again and vote on the appointment. It is possible, as was the case with Peterson’s replacement, that the council will take several votes to settle on a choice. The Peterson seat was eventually filled by Bill Lewis, who had lost to Peterson in the 2005 election, 54 to 46 percent.
If you’re interested in applying for the council seat, contact City Clerk Virginia Smith at (386) 986-3713, email her at [email protected], fax your resume and letter of interest at (386) 986-3714, or mail her at 160 Cypress Point Parkway, Suite B-106, Palm Coast, FL 32164.