Should elected officials resign from current post when they announce run for new position? That’s what Curry wants to ask voters

Jacksonville mayor filed legislation requesting City Council to approve public straw ballot referendum that would appear on March 2023 ballot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is set to leave office in seven months, he wants voters to weigh in on the fate of other local politicians in office that are looking to switch to other elected jobs.

Curry is calling it his “resign to run” legislation — asking voters if elected officials should resign from their current post when they qualify to run for a new elected position.

Jacksonville already has term limits in place for City Council seats — the sheriff, the mayor and other local offices. Many times, those politicians run for a different office when their term is up. Curry’s question to voters would be should those politicians resign from their current post immediately if they choose to run for a different position? For example, if a City Council member wants to run for mayor, they would need to step down before launching that new campaign.

“I’ve seen too many times where people bounce from one office to another from city council to constitutional offices, to state legislature and back,” Curry told News4JAX on Thursday. “And while there are many good people that have served their entire careers, if you will, an elected office, I just think ‘resign to run is the right thing to do.’”

It’s a question Curry wants on the next ballot in the spring.

This would be a straw poll, meaning it won’t become law, but it could let the city politicians know what the public wants to see happen.

READ: “Resign to run” legislation

Jerry Holland, who some describe as a career politician, weighed in. Holland has been a local political fixture, first serving on the City Council in 1999, then as supervisor of elections and now as property appraiser. He is running again for supervisor of elections this coming spring.

“Well, I’m a little baffled by it, by what is it supposed to accomplish, because what you’re saying is, if you’re currently in a position and you run for a different position, you must leave office the week you qualify. And what does that really accomplish?” Holland said. “It sounds like from the opinions I’ve heard from the mayor’s comments is that he thinks it will discourage people for running for other offices to allow more citizens to run for offices. But in my opinion, if it was in law today, and I would resign in January and still run, so I’m not sure what it accomplishes.”

Holland is not alone. City Councilman Matt Carlucci also said he cannot support this.

Curry filed legislation Wednesday requesting City Council to approve a public straw ballot referendum that would appear on the March 2023 ballot. City Council would have to sign off on this, and it will be introduced to council members on Tuesday.

The mayor said that if it passes in a straw poll, he is ready to take the next step and make it law.

“Because there’s some confusion about whether or not this would stand up in court, so if the straw ballot passes, I plan on taking this legislation to Tallahassee and trying to codify it for our city charter,” Curry said.

The mayor outlined the proposal in a column he wrote for Florida Politics. He wrote that this would level the playing field for those who want to serve and encourage more people to run for office. In his editorial, which was posted Wednesday, he added, “We are a nation founded by citizen leaders. Private citizens at the local level quite literally became the foot soldiers who gave rise to the greatest democracy our world has ever known.” Curry also said he’s willing to work with anyone who has suggestions on how the proposal could be revised.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.