By Mary Hladky
Two proposed City Charter amendments on the March 9 ballot would change requirements for those seeking election to the City Council.
One would lengthen the time a person must have lived in the city from 30 days to one year before he or she could qualify to run, and would disqualify from running people who have homestead exemptions on property outside the city limits.
Candidates also would have to provide proof of residency.
The second amendment would eliminate a requirement that candidates pay a $25 qualifying fee. It instead requires them to submit a petition with the signatures of at least 200 registered city voters.
The main impetus for the homestead exemption change is the candidacy of Bernard Korn, who has lost two elections to Mayor Scott Singer and now is one of four candidates vying to replace term-limited Jeremy Rodgers on the City Council in the upcoming election.
Korn gives his address as 720 Marble Way on the barrier island, a home owned by real estate broker Richard Vecchio. But county property records show that Korn and his wife own a homesteaded home at 19078 Skyridge Circle, which is outside the city limits. The property appraiser’s office says homestead exemptions are granted only “if your property is your permanent residence.”
Korn said he has lived with Vecchio, whom he described as his friend and business partner, for about 10 years. He and his wife have been legally separated for about 20 years. She and their two children live in the Skyridge Circle house, he said.
The amendments are “targeted to Bernie Korn,” he said. The Marble Way address, he said, is “my real home” and he recently renewed his lease.
He says it is unfair to disqualify candidates who have homesteaded property outside the city because he thinks it likely that many people share his situation. “They do everything in their power to suppress candidates from running,” he said of city officials.
The amendments would take effect on April 1.