Oak Hill averts legal action by disqualifying 2 commission candidates
DAYTONA BEACH -- It took a judge's ruling to ensure Big John could run for mayor after the Holly Hill city clerk refused to qualify him.
Circuit Judge Richard Graham ruled in favor of John following a hearing Wednesday in his Daytona Beach courtroom, saying in part that although John hadn't followed proper procedures, his actions weren't flagrant enough to merit being disqualified from running for elective office.
John, a former Volusia County Council member and owner/on-air personality for WELE Radio, sued Holly Hill City Clerk Valerie Manning when she refused to accept his $130 check to run for mayor just before qualifying ended. The city claimed John opened a campaign account prior to filing paperwork to run as required by Florida elections laws.
John had actually gone to the city clerk's office June 7 to pick up campaign papers he claimed were for someone else he didn't identify. He showed up a half hour before qualifying ended and said he had decided to run for mayor. But because he had already opened his financial account prior to filling out paperwork for his own candidacy, she rejected his application after consulting with Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall.
Headline Surfer contacted McFall prior to the court hearing and she said her advice to the Holly City Clerk was advisory; that her office had no standing since this was a municipal election.
In Oak Hill, just the opposite happened as what occurred in Holly Hill. Two candidates for two commission seats were qualified, over the objection of a fellow candidate. City Clerk Kohn Evans had erred in allowing them to turn their checks in after the qualifying ended. She misinterpreted a procedure that called for the municipality turning the monies over to the county within 30 days as being the time the candidates could have to turn their checks in to her office.
When former mayor and current commission candidate Jeff Bracy threatened to sue, Kohn ended up disqualifying the candidacies of Lyn Seward, who was Bracy's opponent, and that of Danielle Larkowski, who was vying for the second commission seat against fellow newcomer Robert Livingston.
Evans reversed course Wednesday after consulting with McFall and City Attorney Scott Simpson.
Big John will now vie with incumbent Roy Johnson and the man he defeated, Roland Via, in the Aug. 14 primary. Should the winner not get more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will square off in November.