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Op-Ed: Recall Campaign for Mayor Keith James in West Palm Beach by Rodney Mayo Appears Settled

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West Palm Beach
City Hall in West Palm Beach, Florida. File photo: Jesse Kunerth, Shutter Stock, licensed.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Boff! Bonk! Pow! What is all the fussing and fighting about in West Palm Beach, Florida? Oh, politics as usual. In a nutshell: Rodney Mayo wanted to run for mayor, however reportedly he was not a resident of West Palm Beach. Judge G. Joseph Curley settled the matter. Mayo initiated a recall petition against Mayor Keith James.

Keith James was first elected Mayor of the City of West Palm Beach on March 12, 2019 and re-elected, unopposed, to a second-four-year term in 2023.  

According to a January 18, 2023, article in Florida Politics, a court ruling disqualifying his candidacy to become West Palm Beach Mayor, Rodney Mayo announced he would not appeal the ruling and would, instead, be starting a recall petition against Mayor Keith James

James won a second term when Palm Beach County Circuit Judge G. Joseph Curley ruled that Mayo’s did not meet the residency requirements required to run for office in West Palm Beach. The ruling was a response to a lawsuit James brought against Mayo’s candidacy. 

According to Ballot PediaKeith James recall, West Palm Beach, Florida (2023): An effort to recall Mayor Keith James was underway in West Palm Beach, Florida as petitioners began gathering signatures on February 4, 2023.  

Recall supporters: 

The recall effort is organized by Rodney Mayo, who filed to run against James in the March 2023 mayoral election. Mayo’s candidacy was successfully challenged by James on the grounds that Mayo’s legal residency was at an address in Lantana, Florida. Mayo’s disqualification left James unopposed on the ballot. Mayo announced on January 18, 2023, that he would pursue a recall election rather than appeal the ruling on his residency.  

Recall opponents: 

In a response to the recall, James said, “Residents will see that this is not about what is best for our city but whatever feeds Mr. Mayo’s interests, or gets him attention and headlines. I am going to focus on doing my job as Mayor to run the city of West Palm Beach and carry on the momentum of progress we started four years ago for all our residents. My focus is on building a brighter future, not dismantling things when things don’t go my way.” 

Path to the ballot: 

State law restricts the grounds for which officeholders can be recalled in Florida. The allowable grounds include “malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, and conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.” 

In Florida, for a special recall election to be scheduled, organizers must conduct two rounds of signature collection. In the first round, signatures must be collected within 30 days, and the number required depends on how many voters are registered in the officeholder’s jurisdiction. The officeholder then has a chance to file a defensive statement. In the second round of signature collection, organizers have 60 days to collect signatures equal to 15% of registered voters from the officeholder’s district.  

As noted in the article, Mayo’s Facebook account posted a 1,100-word essay entitled, “There should be no Uncontested Elections in a Democracy!” The Judge’s ruling means that there will be no City Election on March 14 in West Palm Beach because two incumbent Commissioners are also unopposed

“We want to send a message that we want our city back!” Mayo’s post says. “We deserve to have an election and have a choice in our future.” 

What does the judge’s ruling mean for the city of West Palm Beach? For the city, no municipal election means a savings of about $100,000, largely in printing costs, noted the Palm Beach Post. 

It appears the political tussle has washed out with the tide. Back to business as usual in West Palm Beach.  

Let’s take a stroll down Politics Lane: 

As reported in 2019, by ABC 25, a group launched a recall effort against West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James. “One main issue is the controversial $8 million no-bid security contract awarded to PSC, a company whose regional manager, Willie Perez, socialized regularly with James and then-City Administrator Jeff Green. Both pushed for the deal. After public outcry, James decided to put the contract back out to bid.” 

The news report continued, “Secondly, Levine said, is the $180,000 payout James quietly proposed for former employee Shara Esposito after she alleged while being fired in October that Perez texted her a sexually graphic photo, with Green on the text thread.” 

Oh, the juiciness of political scandal.  

Mayor James responded in 2019: “Every citizen has the right to exercise their opinion and have their voice heard. It’s a democratic process. I leave it up to the citizens of West Palm Beach to decide whether a recall is frivolous…”  

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