CONFLICTING STATEMENTS BY ALACHUA CITY OFFICIALS ON CANDIDATE QUALIFICATIONS RAISE FURTHER DOUBTS ABOUT CITY`S CAPACITY TO SUPERVISE ITS OWN ELECTIONS
GRAPSKI CAMPAIGN CALLS FOR PUBLIC SCRUTINY OF APRIL 10 ELECTION
Charlie Grapski, a declared candidate for Alachua City Commission Group 2, says recent press reports about city commission candidates being disqualified by Alachua election officials should be cause for alarm by all citizens concerned about fair and honest elections and the integrity of the city`s electoral process.
"I am highly concerned about the city`s actions, which discourage the full participation of citizens in the democratic process," said Mr. Grapski, in response to statements given to the press on Friday by Alachua Deputy Clerk Alan Henderson.
Henderson was again entrusted by the Commission to supervise the city`s election, despite problems with last year`s election. The decision contradicted earlier assurances by City Manager Clovis Watson that this year`s election would be conducted by the Alachua County Supervisor.
TV 20 News (ABC`c WJCB-TV) reported that Henderson was disqualifying Grapski due to a problem with his filing. Saturday`s Gainesville Sun reported that "three out of five" candidates may be disqualified, according to Henderson, who refused to name the other two candidates.
No further information has been forthcoming from the city, and none of the candidates were contacted about the alleged problems with their qualification.
"This raises doubts about the wisdom of the city commissioners` vote at their last meeting to conduct this election as they had in the past," stated Grapski.
"We should expect that any citizen filing as a candidate will be afforded the full assistance and cooperation of city officials. They have an obligation to make a reasonable effort to notify the candidate if anything is missing or incomplete."
Both Henderson and Watson personally reviewed Grapski's filing, without bringing any problems to his attention, indicating that he had signed all required documents. Grapski paid the filing fees and was given a receipt, confident that all was in order when he left the premises.
Grapski is prepared to go to court if necessary to protect every citizen`s right to participate in the political process. "Problems in the filings should have been brought to the attention of all the candidates on Friday, affording them the opportunity to correct any errors or omissions," said Grapski. "It is unfortunate that city officials contacted the media instead of the candidates with this vital information."
The Alachua City Commission decided on February 12 to decline an offer by Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter to conduct the April 10 election, and voted 5-0 to approve Alachua conducting its own election, after prohibiting any mention of last year's controversial election during public comment.
For more information:
Alachua asks county Supervisor of Elections to run city`s elections
High Springs Herald | November 30, 2006
City commission changes its mind, decides it can run its own elections
High Springs Herald | February 15, 2007
This press statement approved by Charles Grapski, candidate for Alachua City Commission Group 2.