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Mayor Dean Trantalis Asks FL Attorney General Ashley Moody To Help With Fort Lauderdale Commission Challenge

Mayor Dean Trantalis letter to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody

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.

Fort Lauderdale To Hold Hearing On Herbst Challenge After New Commissioners Take Office

Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Alain Boileau gave Mayor Dean Trantalis details on how to proceed with challenge filed against John Herbst late Monday. Boileau delivered the news at a Tuesday afternoon meeting which was to be the debut of new Commissioners. Instead, only Trantalis and Commissioner Steve Glassman were on the dais.

On Monday, Ken Keechl and Chris Williams filed affidavits claiming Herbst does not meet the residency requirement in the City Charter. Section 3.04 allows any elector to file an affidavit “showing that a candidate has violated this provisions of this charter as to the matter of his or her election, or is otherwise unqualified to hold office, and the city commission shall take proof at such meeting and declare the results.”

The Charter requires a candidate be a Fort Lauderdale resident for six months. For Herbst to qualify, he need to reside in Fort Lauderdale as of May 12, 2022. According to the challenge, Herbst did not use a Fort Lauderdale address on his driver’s license and voter’s registration until May 31, 2022.

On Tuesday, Boileau said the challenge would be heard by the Commission once it had at least three members. The certification of new members Warren Sturman and Pamela Beasley-Pittman should come next week. Boileau said the hearing would be quasi-judicial in nature.

Keechl and Williams would present their case to the Commission. Herbst and his attorney Barbra Stern could offer a rebuttal. The Commission would then decide whether the challenge stands. In order to give all parties time to prepare, a hearing may not come until December.