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Lake Wales
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lake Wales City Commissioners Vote to Place the Issue of Run-Off Elections on Next Year’s Ballot


by James Coulter


Lake Wales residents may have a chance to decide whether or not to host run-off elections in the off chance two candidates running for local office don’t receive the majority vote.


On Tuesday evening, Lake Wales City Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the first reading of an ordinance that would place the issue of run-off elections on the April 2025 ballot. If approved, that ballot item would change the Charter and Code of Ordinances respectively to allow for run-off elections.


According to the city staff memo for the ordinance, the amended city code will read as follows:” “If no candidate for the office of commissioner or the office of mayor receives a majority of the votes cast in the regular election, a runoff election between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes for said seat shall be held four (4) weeks after the regular city election in accordance with the Lake Wales Municipal Election Code.”


Run-off elections had been removed from city code in 2007 when the city commission passed Ordinance 2007-01, which placed the issue of removing run-off elections on the ballot. Voters voted to approve these charter amendments in April 2007.


Cost was the main reason cited in the city staff memo for the ordinance for considering run-off elections and placing the issue on next year’s ballot.


“The cost for the 2024 Municipal Election was $12,091,” the city staff memo stated. “The cost for a run-off election would be almost identical as the same advertising, Election materials and poll workers will be needed. This will extend the election season by four weeks. Staff and the Canvassing board would go through the same process as a regular election.”


Lake Wales has not hosted a run-off election since September 1993, with the election between Dixon Armstrong and Booker Young Jr.


If approved, the first run-off election could happen in 2026. The schedule would be as follows:


If approved the first run-off election could happen in 2026. The schedule would be as follows:


Tuesday April 7th would be the Election for Seats 3 & 5 (Thompson & Gibson)


Tuesday May 5th would be the Run-off election if needed.


Wednesday May 6th Commission Meeting would be the swearing in of winners of the April 7th Election.


June 2nd would be the swearing in of the winner of the run-off election if needed as the charter says that “shall take office at the first regular meeting in the month following their election”.

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