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Not a single candidate is running for Oakland’s open Seat 3. Now what? 

Updated: Jan 25

Elise Hui, assistant town manager/clerk, explains what happens next. 

Oakland Town Hall
With no qualified candidate for Seat 3, Oakland’s town commission is facing its first election-related vacancy in the town’s known history.  Andrea Charur/VoxPopuli

When Oakland’s final qualifying period was over on Dec. 7, the town learned that Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield, with no challenger, would retain Seat 2 for another four years and that Commissioner Sal Ramos and Shane Taylor, chair of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board, had both qualified to run for mayor. Kathy Stark, the town's mayor for the last 30 years, is retiring. 

Seat 3, however, the one Ramos is vacating to run for the big chair, had no takers. Not a single resident stepped up to run for the part-time town commission job. 

Elise Hui
Elise Hui, Oakland assistant town manager/town clerk.

Oakland has filled commission vacancies in prior years when officials could no longer serve. But an election vacancy is new territory for the 133-year-old town. VoxPopuli’s Andrea Charur spoke with Assistant Town Manager/Town Clerk Elise Hui about the next steps. 


This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

VoxPopuli: The commission has to have five members. If no one runs for an open seat, how will the seat be filled ?  

Elise Hui: Commissioner Ramo’s seat is officially open after our first commission meeting in March — so that would be March 12 — according to our town charter. The charter gives the remaining commissioners 30 days to appoint a commissioner for Seat 3. If they don’t make a choice, the governor will appoint one. However, unlike elected commissioners, those who are appointed serve only two-year terms, rather than four. The appointed commissioner would serve only until our next regular election in 2026. The charter doesn’t explain why. 

VoxPopuli: How do the commissioners choose a candidate to fill the seat? 

Elise Hui: Commissioner Ramos was actually originally appointed to the commission.  I believe there are people that are known in the general public, who have volunteered with things. They look at the boards, the committees, and people that volunteer within the community themselves, I guess, to pick the right candidate that they think would be a good fit on the commission.

VoxPopuli: You mentioned that Commissioner Ramos was also an appointee. How often does a situation like this happen?

Elise Hui: Commissioner Ramos replaced somebody that died [in 2015] that was serving on the commission, Willie Welch. [Ramos was elected five months later during the town's regular 2016 election.]

Commissioner [Rick] Polland, currently in Seat One, originally was appointed in 2012 when Ramona Phipps stepped down. [He was subsequently elected to three more terms.]

This is a different situation where it's a vacancy during an election. I don’t think Oakland has ever had that. 

VoxPopuli: Why do you think this seat didn’t attract any candidates?

Elise Hui:  It's a lot of work involved. It's not just coming to the two meetings a month. You have to be apprised of all the issues going on, and all of the commissioners, including the mayor, only get $50 a month for their service. So, it's more of a volunteer thing. You deal with residents, and you have to like to do that. And all of our commissioners also serve in other capacities.

[Satterfield is the parent liaison for the Oakland Avenue Charter School Principal Advisory Committee. Ramos is a member of MetroPlan Orlando's Municipal Advisory Committee. Rick Polland (Seat 1) is a member Oakland Nature Preserve's board of directors and executive committee. Joseph McMullen (Seat 4) is a director for the Florida League of Cities' sixth district and a past-president of the Tri-County League of Cities board of directors; .]

I'm just glad we actually have an election for mayor. I think it's good when you have people that are showing interest and trying to make a difference. 

VoxPopuli: Given that one candidate will win the mayor’s race and then there will still be an open seat on the commission, is it possible that whoever does not win the mayoral election ends up in Seat 3? Here, we have two seats, two men who want to serve the town on the commission and no demonstrable additional interest.

Elise Hui: You would think. But with politics involved, you never know what feelings and thoughts … three or four existing commissioners will have to vote for that position. That’s all I’m going to say. It’s completely up to the commission. 

[CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Joseph McMullen was re-seated for Seat 2. Vice Mayor Mike Satterfield holds Seat 2. McMullen was unopposed and re-seated in 2022.]


Andrea Charur is a VoxPopuli intern. She's in her junior year at University of Central Florida, majoring in journalism.

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