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Citizens could pick fill-in mayor

Jenny Andreasson

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The Maitland City Council will consider letting the citizens decide who'll be mayor if Doug Kinson resigns to run for a county seat.

At Monday's meeting, Kinson and Council members Howard Schieferdecker and Linda Frosch said they'd support a charter change — which would have to be approved by voters — that would let a vacant mayor seat be filled by election. The current charter says a departing mayor's term is served out by the city's vice mayor.

In Kinson's case, there would be a year and a quarter left on his term. He must resign by June 4 — effective in January — to qualify for the Orange County Commission seat.

"We've got time to do it (the charter change)," Kinson said, "and I think it's something the residents need to weigh in on…."

Frosch agreed. "It should be put to voters because this could happen again," she said.

But Councilwoman Bev Reponen, the current vice mayor, and Councilman Phil Bonus did not support a charter change.

"I may not love this process but that might be less evil than opening Pandora's box to a charter review," Bonus said. "And then what if the amendment fails?"

Reponen said the charter should be followed as is. "[The charter] doesn't say 'If you don't like that situation you're going to change the rule,'" she said. "That's what the rule says."

The vice mayor appointment and discussion of whether to pursue a charter change was tabled until the June 28 meeting, after Kinson's letter of resignation is submitted — or not. He could choose to give up his commission run and remain mayor.

Kinson said that if he was not limited to two terms on City Council, he wouldn't have ventured for a county seat in the first place.

"Had there not been that limitation of term limits, my thinking would have been much different," he said. "… No city the size of Maitland, where we sit up here and don't get paid a regular salary — there should not be term limits."

Term limits are also outlined in the charter and a change would require a voter referendum.

A referendum could cost the city $20,000 or more if they do it on their own. If they piggyback on another election, such as the one in November, it would cost less.

City Clerk Maria Waldrop said it's not likely that a charter change referendum could make the November ballot because of Supervisor of Elections deadlines and the logistics of having two different ballots in the county.

"To have two different ballots out there would be very confusing. … I heard it's probably not going to happen in November," she said.

Bonus said it's not that timely of an issue just yet. Kinson will be mayor until at least January.

"Unless you're planning to resign effective immediately, we're not really facing a crisis immediately," he said.