Joe Gruters, Jayer Williamson seek constitutional amendment allowing recalls for county officers

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Florida law allows recalls for city and charter county officials only.

Most elected county officials in Florida face no risk of recall. But that could change with legislation just filed.

Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, filed a bill (SJR 1004) to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot expanding Florida’s recall law. Rep. Jayer Williamson, a Pace Republican, filed an identical bill (HJR 663) in the House.

Right now, only municipal and charter county officers can face a voter recall. But the amendment would significantly increase the number of officials at risk. “The legislature may provide by general law for the recall of county officers and commissioners,” the text of the bill as proposed reads.

Under Florida law, “county officers” include each county’s Clerk of Courts, Property Appraiser, Sheriff, Supervisor of Elections and Tax Collector.

Of note, 20 of Florida’s 67 counties operate under county charters. That includes Sarasota and Charlotte counties, the only ones represented by Gruters in the Legislature.

The legislation notably does not cover members of the Florida Legislature. It also doesn’t impact the Governor or Cabinet members, none of whom can face a recall vote under state statute now.

Florida in 2021 saw multiple municipal recall efforts, though none ever made it to the ballot.

A group collected signatures to hold a recall on Panama City Beach Mayor Mark Sheldon, but failed to receive enough signatures. The same fate befell an effort to hold a recall vote on Miami Gardens Council members Reginald Leon, Robert Stephens and Katrina Wilson. A judge in May stopped a recall effort against Palatka Commissioner Judith West.

More recently, NAACP members say they have started an effort to recall Deltona Commissioner Loren King.

Under Florida law, it typically requires gathering petitions demanding a recall vote from 5% to 10% of the electorate represented by an official in order to put the matter to ballot; the total number of signatures varies depending on the population of a jurisdiction.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    November 22, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Power to the people, right on!

    Reply

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  • Mike

    November 22, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    We need to be able to recall them. When they don’t put us first we get them out,

    Reply

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