Tallahassee Group Calls for City Elections to be Held in Fall

A grassroots petition drive by the League of Women Voters in Tallahassee has taken off. The group wants voters to decide once and for all whether city elections should be held in the spring or fall. Thursday, nearly 7,500 signed petitions were dropped off. The league needs about 900 more signatures; that would let voters in the next city election decide when they want to vote on city issues.

It's a pile of papers to solve a capital city question, and with almost 7,500 voter petitions, this group wants city elections moved.

"We are about 900 petitions short of having what we need to put this question on the ballot and have voters decide does it need to be permanently placed in the fall," says Lynda Russell.

A petition supporter, elections supervisor Ion Sancho says fall elections for the city would save $279,000.

"Even in this past city commission election, when we had largest number of candidates on the ballot in the history of city commission races, we topped out at a turnout of just a little more than one out of every three voters," says Ion Sancho.

But proponents of the spring elections say they keep city issues from being lost on a full fall ballot.

"There's only so much air space, there's only so much newspaper space, but I value so much the opportunity for community forums and real public participation," Debby Lightsey says.

And commissioner Andrew Gillum thinks a spring ballot helped him build name recognition as a FAMU student. Still, he thinks the election question may be best left to the voters.

If you're interested in the petition drive, go to Tallahassee Freenet at www.tfn.net or call the League of Women Voters.

If the league gets enough signatures, it is still unclear when this issue will go on the ballot because city commissioners still have to consider the election issue for the next term. The last time they moved city elections, they just took care of the next.