Wardell resigns city council seat

Matt Wardell, the conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and an Ocala City Councilman, poses for a photo in the Reilly Arts Center in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

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Posted April 23, 2021 | By Carlos Medina, carlos@ocalagazette.com

Matt Wardell, the conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and an Ocala City Councilman, is shown in this November file photo. On Friday, Wardell resigned his council seat effective Aug. 18. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Matt Wardell posted the text of his letter of resignation from the Ocala City Council on Facebook late Friday afternoon.

Wardell was not immediately available to confirm the post Friday evening, however, Robert Batsel, the city’s attorney, confirmed he had received a copy of the letter.

In the letter, Wardell states his resignation is effective on Aug. 18.

“In addition to spending time with a host of community causes that Pamela and I care deeply about, the Reilly Arts Center and Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s growth, the added management of the Marion Theatre, and entering my final year of doctoral school at the University of Florida all culminate this fall,” according to the letter.

With the resignation, the mayor can call for a special election to fill the seat. The city is scheduled to hold a regular election on Sept. 21 and there is time to place the District 4 seat on the ballot.

Candidates interested in running to finish the remainder of Wardell’s term would have to qualify with the Marion County Supervisor of Elections before July 16.

Wardell, who was first elected to the post in 2015, was unopposed in 2019. The seat would normally be up for election in 2023.

Wardell is the CEO and artistic director of the Reilly and is the music director and conductor of the symphony. In July, the City Council, agreed to a one-year lease with the Reilly to operate the historic Marion Theatre in downtown Ocala. Wardell abstained from voting because of his connection with the organization.

The previous operators of the theatre had asked for an early release from the lease due to the lack of new films being released and theater restrictions due to COVID-19.

Under the Reilly management, the Marion Theatre hosts classic movie showings and other live events.

“Ocala is an incredibly blessed city with natural resources, innovative thinkers, and generous, community-minded residents. It is a gem that should be admired and held up to the light, not afraid of the occasional polish and refinement. Like all communities, Ocala has challenges ahead and I look forward to supporting the current and future city councils and staffs as they vigorously meet those challenges,” the resignation letter continues. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community on the council for the past six years and I am grateful for the men and women who work tirelessly to make and keep Ocala / Marion County special.”



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