JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As soon as today, the City of Jacksonville could file a lawsuit against Clerk of Court Jim Fuller. At issue: his ability to run for re-election.
Fuller has already served three terms as Clerk. He filed for re-election in March 2012. According to the city's charter, an individual can only serve two terms in that office.
However, a Florida Supreme Court decision in 2002 said otherwise. In Cook v. City of Jacksonville, the court ruled that only the Florida Constitution could outline qualifications for those seeking public office. That meant cities and counties could not impose their own qualifications or disqualifications, such as term limits.
But the city's General Counsel, Cindy Laquidara believes that a new State Supreme Court decision in May of this year overturns the 2002 case. In Telli v. Broward County, the court decided that the county's term limits on county commissioners did not violate the Florida Constitution.
But Fuller said he and his attorney still hold that qualifications for Clerk of Court candidates can only be determined by the state Constitution.
"I'm not against term limits," said Fuller. "I'm not against what the people voted for, but the law says that I am able to run again and I filed and I'm on the ballot and I'm running."
Fuller explained that he believes this lawsuit is politically motivated.
"Oh, I am being singled out and it's my opponent and the people on City Council that are pushing this thing are supporting my opponent," Fuller said. "And it's a political maneuver to try to get people to doubt whether they should vote for me or not and I've been in politics a long time and it doesn't bother me, but let's call it like it is."
But Councilman John Crescimbeni and Councilwoman Lori Boyer, co-sponsors of the resolution to sue Fuller, explained that the decision to file was purely a financial one.
"I agreed to sign onto the bill purely because of the economics," Boyer emphasized. "I mean, every million dollars
is really important to us right now."
According to the resolution, if Fuller were to be elected and someone challenged that, the city could be on the hook to hold a special election. City officials estimate that would cost between $900,000 and $1.8 million.
"If I thought I was going to cause a special election like this whole thing's all about that's going to cost a million dollars, I would not run for office," answered Fuller. "But I don't think that's the case."
Fuller said he intends to fight the lawsuit and that going to court is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
City officials could not provide solid numbers on how much resolving the lawsuit will cost.
First Coast News