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Filling Bay County Commission’s vacant seat

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 7:23 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -

It’s been a little more than a month since Bay County commissioners found themselves in uncharted territory.

Following his arrest on worker’s compensation fraud, among other charges, former Bay County commissioner Keith Baker resigned from his position.

Who will fill his seat on the commission now lies in the governor’s hands.

“Well there’s a minimum timeline of 22 months that’s a timeline remaining in the office that if it’s under that you do this, if it’s over that you do this. The question here is we’re within a week to a two week period- when was the official letter sent for resignation officially to the governor’s office? I don’t know those details,” said Bay County’s supervisor of elections, Mark Andersen.

If the letter was sent with 22 months or less remaining in Baker’s term there would be an appointment. If there were more than 22 months there could be a possible special election, according to Andersen.

“Until the governor gets me an official notice we’re not having an election. So I don’t know where we’re at on that but as soon as I know, Bay County will know,” he said.

Since Baker’s resignation the commission has consisted of four commissioners. So what would happen if there’s a split vote? Is there such things as a tie breaker?

“When the vote on any motion results in a tie, the stated motion does not carry. When no motion on an item can achieve a majority vote, the status quo continues and the item can be placed on a future agenda for consideration. So, for instance, a 2-2 vote to approve a rezoning application means that the rezoning is not approved, but the application is also not denied unless there is a motion to deny the application that receives a majority vote. The rezoning could be reconsidered at a later time.

There are certain votes that require a 4/5th vote of the commission. As presently constituted, those actions would require the approval of all 4 members of the commission to be adopted,” said Bay County’s attorney, Don Banks, in a statement.

As for when the governor will make a decision- that’s still unknown.

“Well I would hope in my position where I’m at that the sooner I know, the better off it’ll be for voters and for candidates,” said Andersen.

Sources tell us a couple of locals have applied for a potential appointment by the governor, but have not heard back from the governor’s office.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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