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    Dunedin struggles to pick mayor, decipher rules

    By LEON M. TUCKER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 2, 2002

    DUNEDIN -- City leaders are hoping to have replacements chosen for Mayor Tom Anderson and Vice Mayor Janet Henderson by October, a month before the two are to step down from the Dunedin City Commission.

    But before any appointments can be made, the city needs some agreement on how to go forward.

    According to the city's charter, "a vacancy in the City Commission shall be filled by majority vote of the remaining members of the City Commission, within 60 days of the vacancy and the person so appointed shall serve as Commissioner until the next regular election."

    The three remaining commissioners in charge of filling the vacancies are trying to figure out how to go about appointing a qualified mayor and commissioner.

    But as the deadline to make those selections draws closer, Commissioner John Doglione, who plans to run for mayor in the city's next election, said he wants the early appointment to the mayor's seat and has challenged City Attorney John Hubbard's interpretation of the charter.

    "We need a process in which (prospective appointees) would establish their credentials showing they are qualified," Doglione said.

    Doglione also asked Hubbard and city staff to revisit their interpretation of the charter, which seems to make sitting commissioners ineligible to be appointed mayor.

    For Doglione to get appointed to the open mayor's seat as the rule stands now:

    The three remaining commissioners appoint a fourth commissioner.

    Doglione resigns, taking the commission back to three members, and hopes the commission appoints him interim mayor.

    If that were to happen, the commission would have to replace Doglione as commissioner.

    "This is certainly a convoluted process," Hubbard wrote in an Aug. 9 memo to the City Commission.

    "It's just a matter of his interpretation," Doglione said.

    He wants to make sure Hubbard has interpreted things correctly, Doglione said. "If it is, then that's fine," he added.

    Commissioners Deborah Kynes and Bob Hackworth, who will join Doglione as the three remaining commissioners, sided with Hubbard's interpretation.

    "His memo was pretty much the way I read the charter," Hackworth said.

    The City Commission is to discuss the matter Thursday. To qualify to run for state legislative seats this fall, Anderson and Henderson officially resigned from their city jobs in July.

    Both submitted letters to the city clerk and are expected to step down by Election Day, Nov. 5, leaving their seats open.

    Initially, both were expected to run for the state House District 45 seat, but Henderson switched before qualifying began and entered the District 11 Senate race.

    This month, she dropped out of the race after discovering her new home is a few blocks outside the boundary line for the newly redrawn district.

    Henderson would be eligible to be appointed to one of the vacant spots on the commission.

    "I would not solicit one of the spots," she said. "But if I were asked to fill out the rest of my term, I would be willing to do so."

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