• Can a felon hold office in Florida? The Ocala City Council is about to find out

    By: Sarah Wilson , Myrt Price

    Updated:

    OCALA, Fla. - A convicted felon won a seat on the Ocala City Council, but the current council voted unanimously to not allow him to be sworn in this week.

    Tyrone Oliver, who won the election, was convicted of a felony drug offense 33 years ago. He said the supervisor of elections cleared him to run, but now the current City Council members are questioning the legality of his service.

    "I was told I was eligible," Oliver said.


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    In Florida, Amendment 4 allows convicted felons to get the right to vote, but it doesn't spell out whether felons can hold office.

    The controversy surfaced days after Oliver won a runoff election, beating Ire Bathea. 

    City leaders have now decided to hold a special election in March 2020, which could cost up to $55,000, to fill the seat.

    "Whatever the people decide, they got who they wanted. They voted for who they wanted," Oliver said. "I made it very clear and they knew about and why I was running.  They knew I had a brush."

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    The superior of elections told Channel 9's Myrt Price that Oliver is a qualified and registered voter.

    But he said it's not his job to make sure candidates in municipal races are qualified. He said that's up to the municipality. He said he is only able to qualify candidates running for county offices.

    Oliver said he has applied multiple times for clemency and that those applications are pending.

    Channel 9 contacted the governor's office about Oliver's case, and so far has not heard back.

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