Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Group's Co-Founder Withdraws Petition; He Had Filed County Charter Amendment Paperwork without Members' Knowledge

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clay Group's Co-Founder Withdraws Petition; He Had Filed County Charter Amendment Paperwork without Members' Knowledge

Article excerpt

Byline: BRAD SCHMIDT

The co-founder of a Clay County citizens group has withdrawn a charter amendment petition he submitted to the Supervisor of Elections Office without the group's knowledge.

Activist Durwood Smith filed paperwork Dec. 27 to begin a signature-gathering process aimed at suppressing the power of the Charter Review Commission, appointed by the Clay County Commission every four years to analyze and suggest changes to the county's charter. One issue under consideration would adversely affect the citizens group by making it harder to place charter amendments on the ballot.

Under his name and that of the Citizens for Term Limits and Accountability Committee, Smith filed a petition that would have required the review commission to gather voters' signatures before putting an amendment on the ballot.

Smith said the petition still is supported by the citizens group but likely will be resubmitted with other petitions at a later date.

"Our holding up right now is to get some more of them in line that may not have been to start with," he said. "I thought they were, but sometimes I'm not always correct."

Clay County Supervisor of Elections Barbara Kirkman confirmed that Smith had withdrawn his petition.

Both the Charter Review Commission and the citizens group are interested in changing the county's charter, which can be done only with voter approval. An amendment can be placed on the ballot in one of three ways: by the majority vote of the County Commission, with the majority vote of the 15-member review commission or through the citizens initiative process, which requires signatures from 10 percent of the voters who turned out for the past general election.

County officials said that since the charter went into effect in 1991, the County Commission has never proposed a change of its own. …

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