Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Step up to the Plate Punta Gorda Citizens -- City Council is Calling You

How often have you said, “My City taxes are too high,” or “Things are not progressing fast enough" or “The street my house is on hasn’t been repaved in five years and is a mess”?

It is the essence of a democracy that every citizen has the right to complain, whether they are right or wrong. But also at the core of every democracy is the right of a citizen to do more than merely complain. Every qualified citizen has the absolute right to become a candidate for elected office, whether it is for their city council, their county commission, or the presidency of the United States.

Government and Citizens suffer whenever there is a lack interest amongst the citizenry in becoming candidates for elected office, such as on the Punta Gorda City Council, as has so often been the case in recent years, with most of the recent Council seats being filled by candidates who were unopposed and therefore didn't need to run in an election. Uncontested offices are not a healthy condition for any city, because they betray a citizenry as being disinterested in the well-being of their city and unwilling to serve as a part of its leadership.  Uncontested elections (actually no elections) also take away an opportunity.  Elections allow us to engage not just about candidates, but about issues in a meaningful way.  We become more informed and aware of what is going on and get more involved in the process of running  our city, county, or state in a way that during "normal" non-election time we do not.

Punta Gorda is fortunate to have a great many citizens who are extremely well-educated, successful in life, and who certainly are more than qualified to fill positions as City Council Members. To qualify for candidacy, you must reside within the district you wish to represent for six months prior to the election and throughout the term, must be a qualified elector of the City, and shall hold no other compensated public office other than as a notary public or member of the National Guard or Armed Forces Reserve. City elections are held in November of each year. The term of service on City Council is for two years. Punta Gorda is comprised of five individual districts. Districts 1, 2 and 4 are elected in even numbered years and Districts 3 and 5 are elected in odd numbered years. This year’s City Council elections are for positions in Districts 3 and 5.

Qualifying for candidacy occurs in June of each year, and requires a petition signed by at least 25, but not more than 50 registered voters residing within the district the candidate is seeking to represent. Various forms required by the State of Florida must also be completed and submitted. A candidate’s packet, including these forms and petition, is provided to any interested person, at the City Clerk's Office.

Once qualified as a candidate, all Federal, State and Local election laws must be adhered to. Should three or more candidates file for any one district seat, a primary election is held in August, nine weeks prior to the general election. The two candidates from each district with the largest vote total in the primary election advance to the general election, which is held in November.

The Punta Gorda Concerned Citizens Committee cannot over-emphasize the importance of the citizenry stepping up to the plate and agreeing to serve their city. It matters not which political party you might belong to, because elections for City Council are apolitical in nature. What matters is that you believe enough in the future of the City of Punta Gorda to become a candidate for City Council, and believe in your heart that you can help preserve the wonderful quality of life the people of Punta Gorda enjoy, while helping to build an even better city.

For further information contact the City Clerk’s Office at (941) 575-3369 or via E-mail at

by Marty Block, Punta Gorda Concerned Citizens