Alachua TKOs

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Recently, a suit alleging that the last Alachua City Commission election was improperly run was thrown out of court on a TKO, a technical knockout.

Whether or not members of the city canvasing board showed favoritism toward the incumbent up for re-election, as the suit alleged, the complaint was filed past the 10-day statute of limitations. So it cannot be heard.

More recently still, three prospective candidates for Alachua City Commission, Charlie Grapski, Michael Perkins and Lowell Byrd, were told they were disqualified from running on still more TKOs. Reportedly, they neglected to sign or completely fill out all of the relevant documents.

One might argue that the law's the law, and that if citizens who want to participate can't follow the rules then they have no cause for complaint.

But both that lawsuit and the controversy over the status of the three would-be candidates point to a larger problem: City of Alachua elections are growing more contentious, and more likely to be disputed by citizens who are not happy with their outcome. No surprise there; these are politically divisive times and elections are being routinely challenged all over the country.

However, we think Alachua City Commissioners made a mistake recently, when they decided to continue running municipal elections out of city hall using city employees. In these contentious times, elections are best left up to detached professionals.

Alachua is a growing city undergoing rapid change, and rapid change tends to generate conflicts among neighborhoods, business interests, and other community stakeholders. There are a lot of things city staff does well, but running elections may not be one of them.

Pam Carpenter was elected by all of the voters of Alachua County to do just one thing: conduct elections in legal and impartial fashion. Gainesville has for years contracted with the Supervisor of Elections to run its municipal elections. As the county's second largest city, and perhaps its fastest growing, Alachua should do likewise.

Because representative democracy is too important a contest to be decided on TKOs.

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