New mayor, and former mayor, Jerry Taylor didn’t misuse his office in February when he used the title “mayor” in literature for the March 12 election, the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics ruled Thursday.
Barbara Ready, a longtime city activist and a critic of Taylor, had filed a formal complaint with both the Palm Beach County panel and the Florida Elections Commission, saying one of Taylor’s political brochures says “Mayor Taylor.” At the time, Taylor was serving as an interim commissioner, filling the seat that became vacant when Marlene Ross resigned in December.
The ethics commission ruled Taylor’s use of “mayor” did not constitute misuse of his public office as commissioner.
Whether Taylor should have used the term wasn’t the issue for the commission.
“For us to have jurisdiction, he has to (misuse) his official position, being elected or appointed, as commissioner, and he didn’t do that,” acting staff counsel Mark Bannon said.
State officials had said in February that it’s not unusual for former mayors or city leaders or members of congress to be addressed that way and that Taylor probably was OK because the brochure didn’t say “Vote for Mayor Taylor,” which would imply he’s the incumbent.
The state elections panel has not yet ruled on Ready’s complaint to that entity.
“It’s a shame that a sitting commissioner was allowed to basically lie on his campaign literature,” Ready said Friday in an email.
“I fully expected it to be (dismissed). It was a frivolous thing,” Taylor said Friday. “I knew I was perfectly legal, so that was just being spiteful.”
Taylor was mayor from 1995 to 1999 and 2003 to 2010. In March, he defeated then-District I commissioner Steven Holzman and two others to return to the seat.
Staff writer Jennifer Sorentrue contributed to this story.