JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - General Counsel Cindy Laquidara will go to court to block Jim Fuller from being on the ballot seeking a third term as Duval County Clerk of Courts.
The only other local candidate who planned to seek a third term, School Board Chairwoman Betty Burney, has decided not to run, saying it would cost taxpayers money if a lawsuit were filed.
"I didn't want to waste taxpayers' money," Burney said. "It is my humble opinion that taxpayers should never have to pay in case there's a court case or anything like that."
Last month, the Florida Supreme Court reversed a position it took in 1992 that a voter-approved amendment to Duval County's charter limiting elected officials to two terms was constitutional. The justices now say the term-limits are legal.
Prior to the ruling, Fuller and Burney both planned to seek re-election. After the ruling, Fuller, who's been Clerk of Courts since 2001, said he intends to continue his campaign, but Burney announced Tuesday she will not challenge the term limits.
Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said Fuller's name can appear on this year's ballot even though Laquidara says Fuller can't run for office again.
"If there's a suit, a requirement for a suit to protect the taxpayer, then I do it," Laquidara said. "That's my direction from Mr. Holland, that's my direction from the mayor, that's my direction from the City Council."
Fuller told Channel 4 in a phone interview Tuesday he will run for re-election and he will win. He doesn't believe the Supreme Court's ruling regarding term limits applies to his job.
While Fuller and Burney were the only two elected officials affected in this election cycle, the term limits will apply to the sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser and election supervisor when they are up for re-election.
The controversy comes from a case in Broward County involving term limits for their county commissioners. The Florida Supreme Court's ruling has been interpreted by some to apply to Duval County candidates as well.
Holland said Fuller has qualified and will appear on the ballot until there's more clarity from the court.
"It will be challenged because there's a need for clarity," he said. "Because this is not a ruling specific to Duval County, we don't know. Does it apply for the next two terms? Does it apply immediately? We have elected office holders who are in their their terms. Does it apply to them?"
Holland does believe this will get kicked up to a higher court for clarification. He fully expects the Florida Supreme Court to make a ruling on this case for Duval County, not just Broward County.
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