CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB) – A Washington County resident claims some of the county’s elected officials were wrong to schedule an election on legalizing liquor sales, saying the petition was invalid.
“The county commission must hold the petition to be invalid and the law is very plain about that,” Ted Spangenberg Jr., said. “But in this case, the county commission did not do that they did not hold it invalid and instead they schedule an election which we know because of that belief that election is illegal.”
By law, the petition’s organizers had 120-days to collect signatures and submit them to the county.
The petitions were certified by the supervisor of elections within the 120-day deadline, but county commissioners didn’t acknowledge the petition in a public meeting until day 159.
County Attorney Matt Fuqua said this is a non-issue.
“It is up to the discretion of the board of county commissioners to order elections. Discretion,” Fuqua said. “And writs of mandamus are not directed at discretionary acts and both of the cases say that that discretion is with the board of county commissioners. It’s not for the courts to step into that discretion. It’s not for Mr. Spangenberg to step into that discretion.”
“A big part of it is really just trying to make sure that there’s an integrity to the process,” Spangenberg’s attorney Jeremy Mutz said. “I think that was what was important more than anything to my client, to make sure the law was followed that applies in any election there are parameters to where we can vote, how we can vote, and most importantly when we can vote, and that’s kind of the issue we are raising here.”
Residents are still awaiting the judge’s ruling as he has taken the presented case under advisement.
Unless Judge Patterson issues an injunction and stops the voting, the election will still take place this Friday. Voters can turn in their ballots until 7 pm.