NORTH REDINGTON BEACH — The old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” was certainly true when officers were installed at the March 9 meeting of the North Redington Beach town commission.
Mayor Bill Queen, Seat 2 Commissioner Gary Curtis, and Seat 1 Commissioner Richard Bennett all ran unopposed, with no other candidates filing to qualify by the close of the qualifying period in December. As a result, a resolution was passed at last month’s town meeting cancelling the 2023 municipal election.
Referring to the combined number of years the three officials had collectively served to date, the mayor said, “There’s over 60 years of service here (to the town).”
Queen has served as mayor since 2005, Bennett as commissioner since 2003, and Curtis as commissioner since 1999. Curtis, with the most longevity of the three, recently received the John Land Award issued by the Florida League of Cities for his 23+ years of public service at the Oct. 13, 2022 town meeting.
Town Attorney Jay Daigneault officiated the swearing in of Queen and Curtis for their next terms respectively. Bennett was absent at the installation meeting and will be sworn in by Town Clerk Mari Campbell within the next few days in accordance with town statutes.
Assignments of areas of responsibility by the mayor were postponed until the next meeting. The supervisory areas the mayor will assign to the four members of the 2023 commission are: public works, building, safety, and vice mayor.
Tally bill a concern
Curtis asked the town attorney about a memorandum Daigneault provided to the commission regarding several bills currently before the Florida Legislature’s regular session that convened on March 7 in Tallahassee. In particular, Curtis asked about HB 405, a bill whose aim is to convert local elections from nonpartisan to partisan.
“If I understand this correctly, does this mean that everyone who runs for municipal office must have an R, I, or D after their name on the ballot?” asked Curtis.
Daigneault responded in the affirmative. He referenced his 15-page memorandum of bills he notes where local municipalities may have concerns involving home rule, building codes, economic development, environment, ethics and elections, finance and taxation, housing, land use and comprehensive planning, personnel, public records and public meetings, public safety, utilities, and miscellaneous topics. The town attorney said he would prefer to answer specific questions about the memorandum when he had the document in front of him, and suggested Curtis or any other commissioner call him at his law office with any questions.
The Legislature “is trying to homogenize the entire state, and this one-size-fits-all approach is very troubling,” said Daigneault.
Queen said he would be writing a letter addressing each of the troubling legislative items to be sent to legislators and affected municipalities.