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High Court Gets Term-Limit Case

The Florida Supreme Court will hear a case that could influence the re-election plans of County Commissioner Jon Thaxton.

The Florida Supreme Court Monday accepted jurisdiction of a case to determine the constitutionality of term limits in charter counties. The fate of William Telli vs. Broward County will determine the state-wide application of term limits on county commissioners.

Plantiffs are ordered to file briefs by next month. Oral arguments could come as soon as  March, with a ruling later in the spring, said Cathy Antunes, president of the Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government.

While the case is out of Broward County, it is eerily similar to one argued in 2005 in Sarasota. In 1998, Sarasota voters, by a two-to-one margin, approved a limit of two consecutive four-year terms for county commissioners. 

The result of the Sarasota referendum was challenged in court. In 2005, Circuit Judge Deno Economu ruled term limits were unconstitutional for county commissioners. His decision was never appealed. 

A similar challenge to Broward County’s term limits was also declared unconstitional, but was appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals. The court ruled in August that term limits on county commissioners were constitutional. The decision sent a shockwave through Saraosta political circles. 

The Florida Supreme Court’s decision may raise questions about the re-electibility of popular three-term . 

Prior to the Supreme Court taking jurisdiction, the commission proposed an amendment to the county charter that Antunes and 17 other individuals sued in early November to block from the ballot.

Circuit Judge Jack Schoonover agreed on Nov 21. 

“It’s up to the lawyers and courts,” said Thaxton the day after Schoonover’s decision. “I’ll will run until my candidacy is declared invalid.”

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