BRADENTON BEACH -- A Bradenton Beach resident failed in an attempt to have the city vice mayor removed from the May 19 recall election ballot against Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon.
John Metz sent an emergency letter Sunday to Chief Judge Andrew Owens Jr. The retired attorney -- a regular at city meetings -- said Vice Mayor Jack Clarke's letter of resignation from the Bradenton Beach Commission was dated April 9 and filed by the Bradenton Beach city clerk the following day. He cited Florida statute 99.012 (3)(c), which requires a written resignation be submitted at least 10 days prior to the first day of qualifying for the office.
"I request this Court strike Commissioner Clarke's name from said recall ballots per F.S. 99.012 (5)," the letter read.
The qualifying period to run in the recall election was April 14-17. Shearon and Clarke are the only two candidates on the ballot.
If voters recall Shearon, the can
didate who receives the most votes will be elected mayor. If Shearon survives the recall, the second question will be moot.
Last week, Shearon told the Bradenton Herald he was fighting to serve his full term and plans on running for re-election in November.
"I felt that Mr. Clarke had not complied with the resign-to-run law properly," Metz said, adding the only chance to do something about the situation was to contact the judge.
An assistant to Chief Judge Owens confirmed receipt of the letter. Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Monday, Court Administrator Walt Smith sent Metz the following email: "The court cannot act until a petition of some sort is filed with the clerk's office. Until that time, the issue should be brought to the Supervisor of Elections."
Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett also confirmed he received Metz's letter, but it was too late.
"The ballots have already been printed and they're at the post office," he said Monday. "We've got to mail about 45 of these in advance."
Bennett said he cannot pull someone off the ballot and said Clarke submitted his resignation as soon as the date of the recall election was set by the judge.
"He couldn't have done it before then because the date hadn't been set," Bennett said.
Clarke said he complied with all laws.
"So far as I am aware, I am in total compliance and have taken all the necessary steps to be a legal and legitimate candidate in the May 19 recall election," he said. "Last fall, when there was a forfeiture initiative against the mayor, everybody wanted the will of the people. Nobody wanted just the commissioners to throw out the mayor, so the committee had worked toward that goal and now we have the opportunity.
"Why now do we have this initiative by the mayor's supporters to deny the voters that opportunity to make this decision?"
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.