The District 2 seat could remain empty until June, possibly delaying major decisions.

The majority of a shorthanded Ocala City Council on Tuesday signaled its preference to wait until an open council seat is filled before deciding on two major issues, potentially pushing the resolutions to June.


The council must decide on a new city manager and the fate of an ordinance allowing construction and demolition landfills in the city.


Council President Jay Musleh and Councilman Brent Malever signaled their preference for waiting until the District 2 seat is filled to take up either issue. President Pro Tem Justin Grabelle preferred a quicker resolution to the city manager question. Councilman Matt Wardell was out of the country and missed the meeting.


The District 2 seat came open in December after councilman-elect Tyrone Oliver was disqualified when a 33-year-old felony conviction came to light. A special election is set for March 17, but it’s possible neither of the three candidates will get 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff election.


The runoff, if needed, will happen on May 19, and the new council member will take their seat on June 2.


"It’s becoming a critical time. Our city departments are getting their budgets ready. That’s not going to leave the city manager much time to make a mark on that no matter who it is," Grabelle said. "I just think that at some point the city has to carry on its business."


Musleh said he felt they should delay the city manager issue until at least April 7, and then reassess after the special election is over.


Malever agreed to the April 7 date but would push for waiting until the seat was filled.


"I would think the seventh or whenever the election is over and the person is seated. That would give us a chance to have a full council," he said. "It’s not right or fair for the people that are running for that office."


A motion to postpone the city manager discussion until April 7, passed 2-1 with Grabelle dissenting.


Earlier in the meeting, the council briefly discussed Mayor Kent Guinn’s veto of an ordinance passed by council that could mean the expansion of a construction and demolition (C&D) landfill in West Ocala.


The council voted 4-0 to pass the ordinance on Feb. 18 despite vocal protests against it from nearby residents. The landfill in question, Friends Recycling, is located in District 2, in an area of West Ocala where the city is pouring millions into several projects.


Despite Musleh’s earlier vote of approval, he felt the district should get a voice in the veto decision.


"I think we should put it off until at least (April 7) to see if we can have a representative for District 2," Musleh said. "Right now, it’s my thought that if we do have a runoff, that we may still put it off (until the seat is filled)."


The council can let the veto stand or try to override. There is no set time frame for the council to take up an override effort. The council can overturn a mayor’s veto with a four-fifths vote.


The veto was Guinn’s fourth in nine years as mayor. Previous vetoes included one dealing with alcoholic beverage permits and two against the proposed development of thoroughbred horse farm property along Southwest 42nd Street. All three were overridden by council.


— Contact Carlos E. Medina at 867-4157 or cmedina@starbanner.com.