Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

With 5+2, County Board Gets Dose of Deja Vu

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

With 5+2, County Board Gets Dose of Deja Vu

Article excerpt

Byline: mark pettus

Depending on who you ask, the debate on how many commissioners should lead St. Johns County seems to be five of one, seven of another.

Supervisor of Elections Penny Halyburton talked with the St. Johns County Civic Association Roundtable Monday about the pros and cons of changing the County Commission from five members elected county-wide to a seven-member commission. The seven, however, would include only two at-large representatives and five commissioners elected only by voters within their districts.

A referendum to change the board will appear on voters' ballots Nov. 7. This may seem like a new idea, but the county has tried it before.

From 1945 to 1990, St. Johns County was run by a five commissioners, each of whom was elected county wide. In 1985, commissioners placed a 5-2 plan - with five commissioners elected from single-member districts only by voters residing in their districts, and two at-large commissioners elected countywide - on a special-election ballot in June. Less than 16 percent of voters turned out for the election and the plan failed. A similar resolution on the 1988 General Election ballot passed by 3,800 votes.

In 1990, the first district representatives were elected to the commission, and more joined two years later. But days after that election commissioners passed a resolution to return to a five-member at-large board. Voters approved the resolution in 1994 - throwing out the plan before the entire 5-2 commission had been seated (the last of the seats filled under the 5-2 were filled by commissioners elected in the 1994 election).

St. Johns County voters last sent a minority to the Board of County Commissioners during the brief period when single-member districts elected their own representatives. Moses Floyd served two terms on the commission, including a year as chairman of the board. …

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