Representative Rick Kriseman (D-53), my State Rep., has been on a roll here lately at The Spencerian: yesterday’s post on endorsing, and to date, the only subject in my Profile & Interview series I still want to get going (know anyone that would be good to profile? Let me know. I’m easy.).
Talk about a guy who gets it.
“Engaged citizens deserve the tools to hold their public servants accountable without having to wait for the next election,” Kriseman said in a statement. “Honest and dedicated elected officials will have nothing to fear from the implementation of this important proposal, and I am confident that my colleagues will support its passage.”
HJR 785 allows for a petition to recall a statewide official, requiring signatures be collected from each of the 67 counties, and the signatures equal 15 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office. A petition to recall a member of the Florida Legislature would require signatures from 20 percent of the total votes cast in the last election for the office.
The link is mine, because I’m helpful that way.
This is from Rep. Kriseman’s website:
Engaged citizens deserve the tools to hold their public servants accountable without having to wait for the next election. Honest and dedicated elected officials will have nothing to fear from the implementation of this important proposal, and I am confident that my colleagues will support its passage.
“Accountability”… imagine that.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Let’s be sure there’s no confusion — here in Florida we can actually recall local officials, but there is nothing that allows for the recall of state officials. First question: why the discrepancy? Aren’t we holding local town council people, for example, to a higher standard than, say, the governor?
I’ve lived in Florida since 2006. I’m trying to recollect if I’ve gone more than a week without hearing the phrase “there’s a culture of corruption in Tallahassee,” followed by a dismissive what-can-you-do shrug of the shoulders and a sad, resigned sigh. I don’t think I have. How about we actually employ that whole accountability thing, rather than just have it be another bit of campaign lip service.
If the idea of this scares you — if you’re worried you’ll see nothing but non-stop recall elections from here to eternity — chill out. It’s not that bad.
First of all, there are some ground rules, and they are pretty tough. You’d have to get signatures, and lots of them — 15% of the total votes cast in the previous election for that office holder’s race. Let’s just take the race for governor again. That’s 15% of about 5.5 million votes. It’s in the 800,000-range for signatures, if I’ve done my math right (which is not a guarantee, people — get your calculators out).
And you’ll have to do better than going around your mom’s condo complex. You’ve got to get signatures in all 67 counties in Florida.
If we’re talking about a legislator, it’s 20%, and you can only get signatures inside the legislative district.
And for anyone that might worry about disorderly transitions of power — or wasting taxpayer dollars on special elections, the way it would work would be to have the recall question at the top of the ballot, followed by a listing of “replacement” candidates. Sort of a two-birds, one-stone type deal.
If the recall vote strikes out, you can’t start it all over again during their term in office. It’s a one-shot situation.
What all of that adds up to is two things: the first is, if you’re going to launch a recall effort against an official, you’d better have a solid statewide network and a damn good plan in place. Two, it means for as high a threshold as that is to meet, our elected officials ought to think pretty seriously about their actions in office (ie, that whole “accountability” thing).
I know we’re in tight budget times, and I know that campaigns and elections aren’t always popular here, but I think you can’t put a price on democracy, and you darn sure can’t put a price on accountability.
Keep up the great work, Rep. Kriseman. And call your state legislator today and urge them to support this important legislation. Hold them accountable for it.
cross posted at The Spencerian.