Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holland Pushes to Consolidate, Move Up Voting; He Says Budget Is the Best Reason to Hold Them All in Fall 2010

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holland Pushes to Consolidate, Move Up Voting; He Says Budget Is the Best Reason to Hold Them All in Fall 2010

Article excerpt

Byline: TIA MITCHELL

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland is renewing a push to consolidate city elections, buoyed by a budget crisis expected to only worsen next year.

Holland's idea won't impact next year's budget for Jacksonville, where Mayor John Peyton is trying to plug a roughly $100 million shortfall. But it could shave off $3 million in expenses for the 2010-2011 budget, when the mayor says the shortfall is expected to grow even larger.

Instead of separate city elections in spring 2011 - when the mayor, City Council and other constitutional officers are scheduled to be elected - Holland proposes moving them to fall 2010.

The governor's race, congressional offices, state legislators, county judges and some school board members are already scheduled to be on the ballot for this election.

The election consolidation idea has come up before and has been rejected by City Council members every time. Holland said now may be the time to finally make the change.

"The difference now versus then is obviously the condition of the budget," he said.

City Councilman Daniel Davis has been toying with the idea on his own for several months. He had legislation drafted that would have implemented the change but hasn't filed it.

In the past, Davis voted against consolidating elections. He sided with those who felt it was worth the $3 million investment every four years to have separate elections focused on city issues alone.

Davis said his outlook has changed.

"In unique situations, you have to prioritize what you have to do," he said. "When your back is up against the wall, you have to make decisions based on your means."

Davis said he hasn't decided when or if he will file the bill he had drafted. He still needs to work out a transition plan for the elected officials that would be affected.

Though Florida counties generally hold elections during the November cycle, many cities and towns continue to have municipal elections in the spring, including Tampa and Orlando. …

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