With resign-to-run resignation letters from several office holders in Orange County this week, voters in the county will get four special elections this year: for Orange County sheriff, an Orange County Commission seat, and two Orange County School Board seats.
None is a surprise, but the resignation letters officially set the clockwork in motion to establish special elections.
With the last letter of resignation Friday afternoon from Orange County Soil and Water District 4 Supervisor and Chair Eric Rollings, Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles has received six such letters this week: from Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Sheriff Jerry Demings, Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke, Orange County School Board Members Nancy Robbinson and Christine Moore, and Rollings.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina also has submitted his resignation, to the city of Orlando.
The county officials all have resigned effective essentially at the end of the year, allowing them to pursue other offices under Florida’s resign-to-run laws.
That has set up domino effects for several of the offices that were not scheduled for elections this year. Those offices are scheduled for elections now – for special two-year terms. They will go back to elections for full four-year terms in 2020.
Demings’ early departure opens the sheriff’s office to a November 6 election for a two-year term, with partisan primaries for August 28. Clarke’s early departure from the Orange County Commission District 3 seat; Robbinson’s early departure from the Orange County School Board District 6 seat; and Moore’s early departure from the Orange County School Board District 7 seat, set two-year general elections for August 28.
In the cases of all of those offices, other candidates already had filed to run in 2020, anticipating that the elections would be moved up to this summer. Almost all of those candidates already have updated their filings to qualify for the August 28 elections.
Jacobs and Robbinson are both running for the Orange County School Board chair’s job. Demings and Clarke are running for Jacobs’ mayor’s office. Mina is running for Demings’ sheriff position. Rollings is running for Clarke’s Orange County Commission District 3 seat. Moore is running for the Orange County Commission District 2 seat. All have competitors.
The sheriff’s race is partisan, so there likely will be an August 28 primary, followed by a November 6 general election. All the other elections are non-partisan, and they are set for August 28. In any of those, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will move on to a run-off on November 6.
Jacobs, who is leaving the mayor’s office due to term limits, had to announce she would resign early because school board members, including the chair, are sworn in in late November, while the mayor’s term runs until Dec. 4.