A Palm Beach Gardens councilman who an appeals court last month said was ineligible to seek re-election must leave office immediately, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Brian Smith, attorney for Carl Woods, asked Palm Beach County Court Judge Martin Colin to oust Councilman David Levy from office. The judge did so during a hearing Wednesday but stopped short of naming Woods the winner of the March 15 election.
“The people that won today were the term limits voters. I’m still only an eligible candidate,” Woods said after the hearing.
Palm Beach Gardens City Council meets 7 p.m. Thursday.
Levy said after conversations with people he trusts and respects, he decided to resign today.
“The city’s got to go on, and the city’s more important than any single person,” he said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the city of Palm Beach Gardens.”
Smith had asked the judge to declare Woods the winner of the Group 4 City Council seat because he is the only eligible candidate remaining. A third candidate, Kevin Easton, dropped out of the race after the ballots were printed. Easton attended Wednesday’s hearing.
The judge said he will decide in the next couple of weeks what happens next. He could still name Woods the winner, or he could order a new election, as City Attorney Max Lohman argued should take place.
Lohman has said any new local election should coincide with other races, for example, the presidential election in November. The cost difference is $70,000 to $80,000 for a standalone election versus $10,000 to $15,000 for an election that coincides with others, he said.
But Smith and term limits attorney James D’Loughy, representing former Palm Beach County Republican Party chairman Sid Dinerstein, argued the city has already spent enough money fighting in court and that no new election is required.
D’Loughy has argued since December that Levy wasn’t eligible to seek re-election because of term limits voters approved in November 2014.
Palm Beach Gardens argued Levy was eligible because he held no elected office for a few months when he resigned from City Council in 2012 for what turned out to be an unsuccessful run for Palm Beach County Commission.
Judges from the Fourth District Court of Appeals on June 24 overturned Colin’s earlier ruling, finding term limits should have prevented Levy from seeking re-election. They did not elaborate on any other aspects of the case and sent it back to Colin’s court to proceed based on state law pertaining to an ouster.
D’Loughy urged Colin to “see through the politics,” to which Colin replied, “I don’t see politics. My justice is blind. It’s not political.”