Suwannee Democrat


April 3, 2014

Live Oak city attorney: Hale not eligible for May election ballot

Hale sought District 1 seat of the Live Oak City Council

Live Oak —

A Live Oak city resident who was seeking the Live Oak City Council District 1 seat has been declared disqualified from the upcoming May election after his qualifications were challenged by Live Oak City Councilman John Yulee, who currently serves that office.

Yulee and Hale were the only contenders for the office. As a result of Hale being disqualified, the District 1 race was removed from the ballot and Yulee will remain the councilman. 

Yulee, who was seeking re-election of the District 1 seat, challenged Don Hale who entered the election to run against Yulee. However, it was determined Hale did not reside within the district. 

The deadline for qualifying for the May 2014 election was Friday, March 21 at 12 p.m. Hale qualified during that time and was allowed to be placed on the ballot according to a previous opinion by City Attorney Erny Sellers. 

The opinion, released on March 24, stated, “I am of the opinion that Mr. Don Hale is qualified to run for the office of City Councilman even though he is not a resident of the city at this time.”

Sellers cited the “Guidelines for Determining When Residency Qualifications For Office Must Be Met”, prepared by the Florida Department of State/Office of General Counsel, last updated March 2012. 

“Note, the guideline asserts residency requirements of City Commissioner is determined ‘at the time of assuming office, unless provided otherwise by city charter or ordinance,’” Sellers wrote. “I am not aware of any city ordinance that provides otherwise than at the time of assuming office.”

On the same day, Yulee submitted a letter to Supervisor of Elections Glenda Williams, challenging Hale’s qualifications for the city council seat.

“At approximately 11:30 a.m., Friday, March 21, 2014, I received a call from your office stating that Mr. Donnie Hale had qualified to run against me (the incumbent) for city councilman for District 1,” Yulee said. “However, shortly after the first call from you, I received a second call from one of your office staff stating that you had spoken to Mr. Hale and had notified him that he was not eligible to run.”

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