Florida 2nd Judicial Circuit Court Judge James Shelfer on Friday made a determination that Midway mayor pro tem Charles “Chuck” Willis cannot be on the city’s April 30th ballot. He said he made the ruling based on “testimony and overwhelming evidence that Willis does not live in his district.” He said the Florida Secretary of State will not accept his candidacy if he doesn’t live in his district.
“Midway should not have accepted his oath of office,” said the judge.
“I am granting the plaintiff’s request and Charles Willis will not be eligible to be on the ballot. He’ll be removed,” said Judge Shelfer.
Plaintiff Samuel “Sam” Stevens filed the civil lawsuit on April 10th and requested an emergency hearing based on the nearing election in which Willis and Stevens were both running for the District 4 seat. Willis had held the seat for 14 years. Chuck Willis and others’ candidate papers were received by Interim City Manager Roosevelt Morris and sent on to Supervisor of Elections Shirley Knight for placement on the ballot.
Stevens had had one of his campaign team, Leslie Steele, go before the Midway Council on April 4th, to present a letter on behalf of Stevens. That letter to Mayor Ella Barber, Interim City Manager Roosevelt Morris and City Clerk Frances Harrell requested that the council remove Willis’ name from the ballot. “It was recently brought to our attention that Charles Willis, who is running in District 4, is in violation of the City Charter in that he does not live in District 4,” states Steele. The city’s charter, she said, clearly reveals that he does not meet the charter requirement. The letter said if the city took no action, they would have to seek remedies available in the court for a Writ of Mandamus and Declaratory Judgment.
After over three-and-a-half hours of testimony, the judge agreed with the plaintiff.