Being elected as mayor of the city of Maitland has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It has taught me to deal with difficult situations with dignity and respect and has made me realize that decisions are never about the individual elected officials, but more about the needs and desires of residents throughout a community.
On Friday, June 4, I will decide whether to submit my letter of resignation in order to run for Orange County Commission, District 5. Florida's Resign to Run Law mandates that one cannot hold two elected positions at the same time. In order to run for one position, one must resign effective the date the next position would be occupied, which in my case would be Jan. 4, 2011. Further, notice must be made effective 10 days prior to the first day of qualifying for the new position, which is June 4.
This is a very difficult decision for me. One which was further complicated by the city of Maitland's charter, which states that elected officials can only serve two three-year terms. In my case, continuing to serve as mayor was not an option available to me.
My letter of resignation, if submitted, will result in my leaving my mayor's post on Jan. 4, 2011, at which time the vice mayor will move to the mayor's seat and an election will be held to fill the vacancy left by the vice mayor in order to fill the remaining term.
Since the person who succeeds me as mayor will only be in that position for a period of 16 months, it will take a very special, unique person to be able to immediately take over as mayor, to hit the ground running, and to keep all of our projects moving forward.
The decision of vice mayor is scheduled to take place at the second City Council meeting in June, at which time his/her term could be lengthened or shortened should he/she eventually become mayor. A shortened term means that residents will not benefit from that person's experience for the entire first or second term. If the term is lengthened, the elected official's decision to run for a second term would be impacted. The best-case scenario would have been to have a charter that dictates a special election to be held in cases where the mayor is unable to fulfill a term, or unable to serve. The residents of our community deserve to have input in such an important situation.
In any case, our next mayor will need to be a consensus builder who is able to bring both sides of an issue together such that we can move ahead with any matter.
Our next mayor needs to be fair and listen to all sides of an issue, not just to a select few.
Our next mayor needs to be available for any matter that comes along, no matter the timing or length of the meeting or event.
And finally and most importantly, Maitland's next mayor needs to be one who is respectful of every person in the process, no matter what their belief or action. This includes every member of Council, every member of staff, every partner in our community, and especially, every resident who stands up to the podium. Anybody who can't be respectful to others need not apply.