On Friday, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody seeking an advisory opinion on “a matter of some urgency for my community.” Trantalis is referring to a challenge brought against District 1 commission candidate John Herbst. On November 14th, two of Herbst’s opponents, Ken Keechl and Chris Williams, submitted affidavits claiming Herbst was not a resident of District 1 six months prior to the election as required by the Fort Lauderdale City Charter. Under the charter, any elector can submit a challenge which must be heard by the City Commission.
With such a hearing set for December 6, 2022, Trantalis asked Moody to provide guidance on legal matters. “At the heart of this matter rests interpretation of the state Constitution, state statute and recent state court decisions,” Trantalis wrote.
Calling the election protest “unprecedented,” Trantalis told Moody, “Like yourself and Gov. DeSantis, I believe we have a serious and important obligation to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
“Our residents need faith that the rules of the election process are clearly followed,” Trantalis wrote.
Hoping to render a “valid outcome,” Trantalis asked Moody for an advisory opinion of several issues:
- Herbst masking his address by using an exemption under state law for law enforcement officials.
- A definition of residency using updated state law and recent state court opinions.
- How much weight to give a homestead exemption in determining the residency of a candidate.
- Whether an individual can seek elected office in one location while maintaining a homestead in another location.
The four page letter obtained by REDBROWARD also included facts surrounding the challenge as well as citations to court cases.
The Mayor provided a copy of the affidavits to General Moody.