Coconut Creek Commission Debates Overhauling Municipal Elections
Coconut Creek City Commission.

By Bryan Boggiano

During their workshop on Wednesday, the Coconut Creek City Commission discussed various proposed changes to the city’s charter. These changes would affect the timing and method of municipal elections.

Currently, the city elects five commissioners in March of odd-number years. The commission appoints a mayor among themselves.

The first option includes transitioning to an elected mayor and March elections. Redistricting would occur, and each position would be up for election in 2027. Staggered terms would follow.

Another option would be to shift elections from March in odd-number years to November in even-number years. Terms ending in March 2025 would go through November 2026, while those ending in March 2027 would expire in November 2028. The mayor would remain in an appointed position.

The third option would include an elected mayor and November elections. Redistricting would occur, and all five candidates would appear on the ballot in March 2027. Elections for two seats would follow in Nov. 2030.

Commissioners would serve 3.6 and 5.6-year terms. The commissioners who serve the short and long terms would be determined by a drawing.

A fourth option would move elections to November and feature an elected mayor. All candidates would be up for election in Nov. 2028 (with four-year and two-year terms), and two seats would be up for election in 2030. Current terms would be extended, and future ones would be shortened.

If the city commission ultimately votes on any of these options or a different one, the proposed changes will appear on the Nov. 2024 election ballot.

The city commission ultimately met these proposals with a mixed reception. They discussed issues such as overwhelming voters with information, making too many changes at once, and potentially concentrating power to a few select neighborhoods if they get rid of districts and decide to elect commissioners to at-large positions.

Commissioners briefly discussed transitioning to making the seats at-large positions. On this, Vice Mayor Sandy Welch warned power could be concentrated to one specific area in the city, as is the case with Plantation.”

“For me, that wouldn’t be forward-moving for us to present to the voters,” she added.

The commission also didn’t meet the November elections with much praise, saying the charter question would overwhelm voters.

“It’s a lot to throw at voters all at once…,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Wasserman. “It’s a lot to read, it’s a lot to comprehend. We’re changing two parts of the charter.”

Similarly, Commissioner Jackie Railey said the charter question, which will appear at the bottom of the ballot, would likely get “lost in the weeds.”

Multiple commissioners also expressed strong opposition to extending terms.

Ultimately, the commission failed to reach a consensus to continue conversations and analysis on moving the elections to November. Commissioner John Brodie, Wasserman, and Railey were not in support, but Welch and Mayor Joshua Rydell were.

On the issue of the elected mayor, the commission agreed more, although they were not on the same page.

“By not having an elected mayor, it makes it politics amongst the commission,” Rydell said.

Similarly, Brodie said, “Having the mayor elected brings a lot of stability to the city.”

Ultimately, Rydell, Brodie, and Wasserman supported continuing conversations and analysis for presenting voters with the charter question on moving to an elected mayorship, which could be a two-year term. Welch and Railey did not support this.

For any proposals to appear on the ballot, the commission must meet before Jan. 1, 2024. They would then have two votes on an ordinance in Jan. and March 2024. City staff must forward the information to the Supervisor of Elections by June.

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Bryan Boggiano
A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.