Palm Bay City Councilman Jeff Bailey announced on July 1, 2021 that he would be leaving the city to move out of state because he accepted a new teaching job in Alabama.
The last minute announcement set off a sequence of controversial events in Palm Bay in order to fill his vacant seat with only a few weeks of notice. Tonight is Bailey’s final meeting and his final day is August 10th.
Public records from Alabama show that Bailey actually completed his background check for the new teaching position back in January of 2021 and was issued his teaching certificates on 2/3/2021.
For at least 6 months, Councilman Bailey knew that there was at least a possibility of him leaving his elected office. Had he given more notice to the City of Palm Bay that he was at least thinking of leaving, more could have been done in preparation for his absence. The short notice has led to what looks like will be a special election that could happen in as little as 75 days from today. That short time frame will leave potential candidates with a huge burden of putting together a campaign, and acquiring the resources need to run for office with very little time to do so.
It also robs voters of adequate time to actually get to know the candidates running to fill the vacancy.
Bailey specifically asked that the ordinance be changed from 90 days to 75 days so that the election could be held sooner.
Tonight the council will vote on a proposed change to the ordinance which will revert back to the previous language of the Palm Bay Charter which will allow the vacancy to be filled by appointment from the remaining council members, until the special election can take place.
The city does not control when the actual election will be held however. The Brevard County Supervisor of Elections determines the date which according to ordinance, must take place between 75-180 days from the date of Bailey’s resignation. Her office estimates the cost to Palm Bay taxpayers to hold the election because of Bailey leaving will be just over $250,000.