Fort Lauderdale election drama ends as commission sworn in


FORT LAUDERDALE — Three new commissioners took their seats on the dais Tuesday before a standing-room-only crowd at Fort Lauderdale City Hall — even John Herbst, the newly elected District 1 commissioner whose residency was challenged by a losing candidate.

“Running for office is not for the faint of heart,” Herbst said after taking his seat on the end of the dais.

Pamela Beasley-Pittman and Warren Sturman also took their seats after a swearing-in ceremony that drew dozens of residents and city employees.

Former County Commissioner Ken Keechl, the losing candidate who challenged Herbst’s residency just days after the Nov. 8 election, was a no-show.

That cleared the way for Herbst to finally be seated on the commission, enabling the city to forgo a hearing in which each side would have made their case.

Days ago, City Attorney Alain Boileau informed Keechl that he needed to come in person to City Hall in order for a proper and legal hearing to be held.

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Keechl sent the South Florida Sun Sentinel a text on Monday arguing the onus is now on the city to pursue an investigation into Herbst’s eligibility to hold office.

“It’s unbelievable we are now being told the city attorney thinks it’s a resident’s responsibility — and not the responsibility of the city officers — to uphold the residency provisions and election integrity of the city charter when the city attorney has been given proof as required by the city charter,” Keechl said in Monday’s text. “Scary. Whether popular or not, I did what I thought was right.”

Keechl also argued the city should have launched its own investigation after the Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office discovered Herbst had obtained a homestead exemption on a townhome in Highlands County.

Herbst, who has been renting an apartment in Fort Lauderdale since mid-April, told the Sun Sentinel he plans to drop the homestead exemption at the end of 2022.

Herbst and his attorney, Barbra Stern, have argued all along that he’ met the city’s six-month residency requirement, noting that he moved into his District 1 apartment more than six months before the election.

This is a developing story, so check back for updates. Click here to have breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

Susannah Bryan can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan



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