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Governor declines to appoint replacement for long-vacant Midway council seat

Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott declined the Midway City Council’s request for him to appoint someone to fill its long-vacant District 1 council seat, which was left open when the late Charlie Smith died while in office in February. Since Smith passed away, the Midway council has tried repeatedly to fill the empty seat, but all votes have ended in a 2-2 deadlock, with Mayor Wanda Range and Mayor Pro Tem Samuel Stevens voting one way, and council members Carolyn Francis and Ronald Colston voting another. Unable to agree on a successor for Smith, the council voted unanimously in July to ask the governor to name a successor from a list of six candidates – all of whom had previously failed to be voted in by the deadlocked council. Since the governor refused to take up the matter, the Midway council is left with several options, Midway City Manager Leslie Steele said. Since the council is unlikely to reach a compromise and agree on a single candidate, the council will likely be forced to look to the citizens of Midway for a solution. The city can hold a special election and allow the public to choose a candidate, but the earliest such an election could happen is December, according to the Gadsden County Supervisor of Elections. But December is just a few months away from the city’s regular municipal electoin, scheduled for the last Tuesday in April. The Midway District 1 seat will be up for a public vote in the regular election, regardless of whether an interim council member is elected in a special election. Given the timeframe and the high cost of holding elections, the council may opt to forego a special election, remaining a four-person council until the regular election in April, Steele said, adding a special election for District 1 was not in the fiscal year budget. But such an option could prove problematic for city business, as Midway council members often find themselves at odds along 2-2 lines. Steele said the council has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to compromise and come together in the best interest of the citizens of Midway, however. At the regular Midway City Council meeting at 6 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Sept. 6), Steele will present council members with options for dealing with the vacancy.

By Brian Dekle