Rules are rules and I believe they should be enforced when infractions are found.

State statute rule #165.043 is very clear on the unapproved usage of a city seal for a candidate’s campaign purposes, for example. Use of the official municipal seal without permission of the city commission, especially when used as a seeming endorsement, is identified in the statute as a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.

I wonder why the Apalachicola city manager or city attorney - in particular implementation of their sworn duties - failed to notify candidate Valentina Webb to cease and desist the usage of the official municipal seal on her campaign signs and materials throughout the mayoral race.

Rules are rules, and when so importantly codified in state ordinance, should certainly be enforced equally on behalf of all. Blatant favoritism, as demonstrated by these blind eyes cast toward a particular municipal candidate’s offense, should have no place in such a campaign.

It makes an observer wonder why illegal signs, ads and other materials were allowed to be displayed for the majority of the Webb campaign without any consequences, despite being inappropriate as well as illegal? The city manager was notified of the infraction, and reportedly other officials were notified as well, but for whatever reasons, no further action or cease and desist demand was made.

I believe elections are a sacred right in this country, in this county and in our cities. I believe candidates can and should be held to a higher standard of behavior and action. I believe candidate Webb has given voters the idea that she has been officially endorsed by the city.

One thing remains constant. Use of the city seal without permission is a second degree misdemeanor according to Florida statutes. We learned long ago that “ignorance is no excuse for violating the law.” Is that the excuse being used and, even worse, accepted here?

The city of Apalachicola is facing a very important election in a few days. Voters deserve to believe in the integrity of the candidates who have presented themselves for office. Voters have the right to trust their candidates. Candidates have the obligation to know and to follow the laws of the city and state wherein they plan to serve. Voters have the right to decide which candidate deserves their very precious vote. Voters must base their decisions on the facts of the candidacy, the goals promised and the capability of the candidate to fulfill those obligations.

But no candidate should be allowed to begin an office under a cloud of deception or ignorance. Public office at these higher levels of accountability should be respected and respectable. Candidates should follow the laws under which they plan to govern.

Mel Kelly

Former mayor of Carrabelle