Pinellas County Commissioners Behind the 8 Ball

By Dr. Rich Swier – In 1996, the ballot initiative “8 is Enough” was passed by 78% of voters in Pinellas County, Florida to limit County Commissioners to two four year terms. That ballot initiative has been in litigation since then. Recently the Florida Supreme Court upheld term limits for all Constitutional officers and County Commissioners.

This Florida Supreme Court decision impacts four of the seven sitting County Commissioners, including the Chair and Vice-Chair. The commissioners who are in violation of the two term referendum are: Susan Latvala, John Morroni, Karen Williams Seel and Kenneth T. Welsh.

A lawsuit has been filed against the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, Pinellas County and names the four Commissioners in violation by a group of local citizens. At the Pinellas County Commission meeting on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 the lawsuit will be discussed.

Former Tarpon Spring Mayor Bev Billiris, who is part of a group that has filed a lawsuit to support the referendum, stated “They did not follow the will of the people. The people voted 78 percent to have term limits for county commissioners.”

A similar lawsuit was filed in Sarasota County, FL to keep Commissioner Jon Thaxton off the 2012 ballot. Commissioner Thaxton violated a referendum passed by Sarasota County voters in 1996 limiting County Commissioners terms to eight years.

A Rasmussen Reports survey asking about trust of local government of 1,000 Adults nationwide was conducted on July 5, 2012. The survey found six out of ten do not trust local government. The federal government garnered 23% and state government 12%.