Term limits should have prevented David Levy from seeking re-election to Palm Beach Gardens City Council March 15, an appeals court ruled Friday.
Retired Palm Beach Gardens police officer Carl Woods challenged Levy in the race, and a third candidate, Kevin Easton, dropped out before the election. Woods’ attorney, Brian Smith, said he plans to argue Woods should be sworn in as soon as possible.
The city says another election may be required. Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Martin Colin will likely decide what happens next.
Palm Beach Gardens hasn’t decided whether to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. Neither has Levy, his attorney John Whittles said.
“We’re obviously disappointed and a little surprised by the opinion,” Whittles said. “He wants to do what’s best for the city, but he wants to pursue his own rights, too.”
Attorney James D’Loughy, who represents former Palm Beach County Republican Party chairman Sid Dinerstein, said the judges followed voters intent. They approved term limits in November 2014 that state no council member should serve more than two consecutive full terms.
“They brought the power of government back to the people instead of keeping it centralized with the City Council,” he said. “The court has seen through the politics here.”
Palm Beach Gardens City Council will likely discuss whether to appeal during an open forum, after which it will advise the city attorney how to proceed, spokeswoman Candice Temple said.
Dinerstein, who helped pay for the term limits initiative, started challenging Levy’s eligibility in December. Smith then appealed Colin’s May 18 ruling that Levy could run once more before term limits booted him from office.
If it stands, the appellate court’s ruling would also block Mayor Marcie Tinsley, Vice Mayor Eric Jablin and Councilman Bert Premuroso from running again next year.
“This is a great week for all the people of Palm Beach Gardens who overwhelmingly voted for term limits and retroactive term limits,” Dinerstein said.
Whittles and Palm Beach Gardens Attorney Max Lohman have argued that Levy was eligible because he held no elected office for at least three months.
He resigned from City Council, effective Nov. 19, 2012, for an unsuccessful run for the Palm Beach County Commission. After losing to Hal Valeche, Levy won a spot on City Council in the March 2013 election.
This election also generated controversy about whether Levy received the majority of votes cast to win the election. The court’s ruling effectively makes that issue moot.
Woods said he’s happy to move forward, and his efforts prove he doesn’t give up.
“Let’s hope the city will do the right thing and declare me the winner because it has been ruled that David was not an eligible candidate,” Woods said.