Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Citry Seeks Ruling on Third Term

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Citry Seeks Ruling on Third Term

Article excerpt

Clerk refuses to allow Vanella Carusone to file for office

NORTH PORT -- In a move__ likely to set precedent for future__ North Port elections, the city is__ challenging in court the bid by a__ former city commissioner to run__ for a third term in office.__ Vanessa Carusone served__ two consecutive__ terms as a North__ Port City Commissioner__ from__ 2002 through__ 2010. Now, she__ wants to run__ again for the__ District 1 seat in__ the city's general election next__ November.__ Carusone contends she is__ eligible because the city char-ter__ states commissioners "may__ serve for no longer than two__ consecutive full terms inclu-sive__ of terms prior to 2012," but__ it does not address candidates__ seeking additional, non-consecutive__ terms.__ An independent legal opinion__ sought by the city from Sara-sota__ law firm Bentley & Bruning__ agreed with Carusone.__ "Had the (charter) drafters__ omitted the word 'consecu- tive,'__ Ms. Carusone would likely__ be ineligible for re- election,"__ stated the opinion signed by__ attorney Morgan R. Bentley.

Bentley added that Carusone__ "is entitled to serve two additional__ consecutive full terms as a__ Commissioner if she is elected."__ But North Port's city clerk,__ who serves as the city's elec-tion__ official, refuses to allow__ Carusone to file for the District__ 1 seat. Instead, North Port has__ filed a complaint against Carusone__ in the 12th Judicial Circuit__ Court, asking a judge to determine__ whether she is eligible.

The legal challenge__ could last six months and__ cost the city $15,000, City__ Attorney Mark Moriarty__ said.__ Carusone characterized__ the city's legal challenge__ as "election rigging."__ "The commission spent__ money on a legal opin-ion__ that they apparently__ did not like and are now__ spending more taxpayer__ money to gather a secondary__ opinion," she__ said. "The bottom line is__ that this is another venue__ to prove that they are not__ willing to allow the electorate__ or the public to__ participate. …

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