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Porter ‘Resigns­­ to Run’

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Posted: Friday, June 15, 2018 2:55 pm | Updated: 4:15 pm, Fri Jun 15, 2018.

Resignation, effective Jan. 7, 2019, is mandatory in accordance with state law as he declares his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner

Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter is formally in the statewide race for Florida Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner.

Porter filed the required “Resign to Run” letter on Thursday, June 7, one day before the deadline prior to the qualifying period.

State law requires a resignation from a currently held elected office in order to qualify to run for another state, county or municipal office. The reason is so no one holds two offices at the same time. The law says the resignation is irrevocable.

“I filed the resignation letter with the clerk,” said Porter. “It’s effective January 7 when the new Commissioner will be sworn in. Once filed, you can’t go back.”

Vice Mayor Steve Shelley becomes Mayor on that date by terms of the mended Homestead Charter, regardless of who wins the Agriculture Commissioner election.

Mayor Porter decided to run for statewide office because of the timing.

“It’s a lot easier to run for an open seat than to challenge an incumbent,” he said. “I’m running for a partisan office for the first time. I’m a registered Democrat and have been all my life.”

“And as for timing, the City’s in a really good place,” Porter continued. “Steve Shelley is the perfect person to transition into a great Mayor. It makes a seamless transition for the City without a lot of upheaval.”

When Councilman Shelley becomes Acting Mayor in January, Homestead’s Code requires him to name a qualified individual to serve in his vacated Council seat subject to Council approval. That is because more than six months would remain in the term of the underlying Council seat. In November when a new Mayor is elected, an appointed person becomes a private citizen (unless they choose to run for office).

“Steve’s subject to the same resign to run rules,” said Porter. “Ten days prior to the qualifying period, he must resign from Council to run for his own term as Mayor.”

The Code specifies that if the Acting Mayor chooses not to run for their own mayoral term, they return to their original Council seat to finish that term. Councilman Shelley’s current term ends in 2021; he is then term-limited having been elected to three four-year Council terms.

“I can do a great job with (the Commissioner) office,” Porter continued. “Miami-Dade is the second largest producer of agricultural products in the state.” The Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services is a cabinet-level position elected for a four-year term in even-numbered years. The Department is organized into twelve divisions including plant industry, marketing and development, forestry, fruit and vegetables, animal industry, standards (including weights and measures), dairy, environmental laboratories, food safety, licensing and a support division. The office’s budget in 2014 was $1.4 billion. 

“It’s a mixed bag of oversight,” Porter said. “Our state is number one in fraud. That’s under the Ag Department’s regulatory role. The recent report of not checking concealed weapons applicants’ backgrounds is concerning especially with the heightened interest in firearms.”

“I’ve watched the agriculture industry go from what it was to the bare bones it is today,” he said. “Every time you turn around a new product comes in from off-shore to compete. No more Persian limes; avocadoes are crippled; no mangos like before. And you don’t know how other countries treat their workers or manage the product.”

Porter faces two announced Democrats in the Primary election. David Walker of Broward County is president of the South Florida Audubon Society. Nicole Fried of Ft. Lauderdale is a lawyer.

Republican candidates who announced for the office are former state representative Matt Caldwell of Lee County, state Senator Denise Grimsley of Lake Placid, perennial candidate Mike McCallister a university professor, and former representative Baxter Troutman, a citrus grower from Winter Haven.

“I’m on the ballot to compete,” said Porter. “Bobby Brown is my campaign manager and I’ve hired Metropolitan Public Strategies of New York as a technical advisor.”

“I’ve contributed twenty years of my life to community service,” he said. “I do run a City and the Mayor wears so many hats. If there were problems with the City, I’d stay and fix them. But we’ve got a great manager and a great Council.”

“We’ve got a great Mayor-to-be ready to step in,” Porter said. “The continuity of the team is already there. The City’s in the best shape in a long time, across the board.”

“Homestead is my home,” Porter concluded. “South Florida is my community. I’m doing this to bring resources down here and keep us on the map.”

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