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Smith keeps seat on council; no special election required

By Staff | Jan 16, 2018

ISLANDER/REPORTER PHOTO Holly Smith taking the oath of office in December after being appointed to the Sanibel City Council. She will retain the seat and avoid a special election after being the only candidate to qualify last week. Beside her stands her husband, Jason.

One Sanibel City Council member will not have to vie to retain her seat in a special election.

The city of Sanibel held a one-week qualifying period from Jan. 8 to Jan. 12 at noon for anyone interested in running for the seat currently held by Councilwoman Holly Smith. She was appointed to the seat in December, filling a vacancy left behind by Jim Jennings, who relocated to Fort Myers.

“There was an opportunity for potential candidates to go through a qualifying process,” Public Works Director Keith Williams, who is serving as Sanibel’s acting city manager for the time being, said.

Smith, however, was the only candidate to complete the process and qualify.

“She was the only person to qualify as a candidate,” City Clerk Pamela Smith, said.

She explained that the process entailed filing paperwork, gathering signatures – 1 percent of the number of voters from the last gubernatorial election, or 38 – and then having them certified.

“They usually get more than that,” she added of the signatures.

Once complete, a candidate’s paperwork is finalized.

Williams explained that if more candidates had undergone the process and qualified, Sanibel would have held a special election in March for the seat as outlined in the language of the city’s charter.

“Because there was not, she basically gets to retain the seat,” he said, adding that the council is likely pleased that the person it chose to appoint last month was the only candidate to qualify.

“I know they’re looking forward to working with her on council,” Williams said.

Holly Smith also expressed excitement about working with the group.

“I think I can honestly say I’m breathing a little bit easier because now I can get right down to the work that I’m tasked to do. An election is a serious undertaking for anyone,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting to work and I’m really honored.”

In filling Jennings’ vacancy, the city received an application from Smith and nine others.

“I can say that I was a little bit surprised,” she said of being the only qualifier. “Only because we did have so many applications that came forward for the appointment of the position. Seeing that, I did think that there would be some sort of a special election.”

Smith was appointed her position as vice chairman of the Sanibel Planning Commission.

City officials noted that Smith’s seat, as well as the seat held by Councilman Chauncey Goss, will be included on the March 2019 ballot during a regular election.