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Oakland Politics

Oakland Mayor opens Seat 3 applications to the public

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Andrea Charur


Friday, March 29, 2024


Andrea Charur

Anyone who has lived in Oakland for at least a year can apply to be considered for Seat 3 commissioner. Mayor Shane Taylor said the new process was intended to be more "equitable" and attract "community-focused leadership."

Newly elected Mayor Shane Taylor lost no time demonstrating the kind of change he’s bringing to Oakland. At Tuesday’s town commission meeting he shook up the Seat 3 nomination process. Rather than commissioners appointing someone to fill the vacancy, Taylor opened the selection process so that any resident who has lived in Oakland at least a year can submit an application.  

Taylor told VoxPopuli in a text message that his intention was to create an “equitable process” to attract “community-focused leadership.”

Whoever fills Seat 3 will serve two years until the next regular election in March 2026.

Why is there an open seat?

Let’s step back and recall how we got here.

Sal Ramos, Taylor’s opponent, vacated Seat 3 to run for mayor. The seat remains open today because no candidate stepped forward to run for the seat during the December qualifying period. In the run-up to the election, residents, posting in the Facebook group We Are Oakland, complained they were unaware the seat was open and that the town had not done enough to publicize that.

Seat 3 officially became vacant on March 12. The commission has 30 days to fill it, which means by its next town commission meeting April 9. If it’s not filled, Gov. Ron DeSantis will appoint a commissioner to take the seat, according to the town charter. Given the short time frame, Elise Hui, the town clerk and assistant town manager, suggested holding a workshop to discuss potential nominees prior to the April 9 meeting. [A workshop will be held at 6 p.m. before the 7 p.m. commission meeting.]

In a Jan. 24 interview with VoxPopuli, Hui said the commission would appoint a commissioner to fill the seat for two years, per the town charter. In 2015, after a commissioner died, Ramos had been a commission appointment. He was elected in 2016 and then served nine more years.

When the Seat 3 item came up on Tuesday’s agenda, Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield proposed each commissioner submit names to Hui for consideration as they’d done “in the past.”

Ramos had said he’d like his seat back if he didn’t win the mayoral election.

“If they’d like to choose me, I would say yes,” Ramos said at a Feb. 22 fundraising event at Prairie House Coffee when asked about returning to the commission if he did not become mayor.

Not business as usual

Taylor shut the door on that possibility with his broad-based plan to open up the selection process.

“What do you think about people that are interested in doing this, an application process?” he asked the other commissioners. “They fill out an application and they submit it back to the town and then, at that workshop, you review those applications.”

Taylor recommended developing a rubric to score applications for suitability. The commission would then review applications during the April 9 workshop, and choose the new commissioner at the April 9 meeting. 

At that point, Hui produced applications for Oakland’s volunteer boards that could be modified for the Seat 3 application.

No objections were raised to Taylor’s plan.

An engaged electorate

The mayoral election triggered increased interest in civic engagement. Taylor acknowledged that earlier in the evening, in his speech after he was sworn in. when he urged residents who had become involved not to become “complacent about how things are done.”

Resident Carlos Esquivel said during the meeting that he hoped “there might be a couple of women that will have an interest.” The standing-room crowd greeted that idea with applause.

Residents have also been buzzing about the open selection process for Seat 3 on Oakland’s social media channels.

“We need a younger person, preferably a lady though,” resident Jan Holzworth said on the Town of Oakland Facebook page after another resident encouraged her to run.

Anne Fulton of Johns Landing said she'd been encouraged to throw her name in the proverbial hat too. Fulton gained some recent local notoriety when outgoing mayor Kathy Stark refused to let her speak during public comment, yelling at her to sit down, an incident captured on video.

Fulton told VoxPopuli that like many in the town, she is “ready for change.”

“My passion is giving a voice to those who feel they don't have one,” she said in an email. “I will stand up at someone's last meeting, or their first, to make sure our collective voice is heard. To me it is about our community, not who is sitting at the table. However, having a seat at that table means that our voice is louder.”

Even if she is not selected for the seat, Fulton said she’ll continue to “show up” and look for ways to cause “good trouble,” a reference to the late Congressman John Lewis’ description of creating needed social change.

No word yet on whether former Commissioner Ramos plans to submit an application.

Submit applications to the town clerk’s office (230 N. Tubb Street or P.O. Box 98) by 5 p.m. April 1. Candidates must have lived in Oakland for at least one year. The new commissioner will be required to fill out the Florida Ethics Commission financial disclosure Form 6, which details all assets and liabilities more than $1,000.

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