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Rod Velez will not be sworn onto Broward school board today, as eligibility questions persist

Rod Velez speaks to Broward County school board chairman Torey Alston before the swearing in ceremony on Tuesday Nov. 22.
Gerard Albert III
Rod Velez speaks to Broward County school board chairman Torey Alston before the swearing in ceremony on Tuesday Nov. 22.

Newly-elected Rod Velez, who faces questions about his eligibility to hold public office after a decades-old felony conviction, will not be sworn in to the Broward County school board today.

"The state has everything they need to hit the button and process everything," he said minutes before the ceremony Tuesday morning.

The application is an extra step that returning citizens need to take in order to hold public office. It is unclear when Velez filed the application, or if he did. As of Tuesday morning, the state's database don't show a record of his rights restored. But the database only shows approved records, not pending cases.

"I am not a liar. I'm truthful and just keep believing me," he said when asked about public trust.

Five other school board members will be sworn in, including newly elected members Brenda Fam, Allen Zeman and Jeff Holness. Current school board members Lori Alhadeff and Nora Rupert will also be sworn in.

Had Velez taken the oath and then been found ineligible to hold office, he could be charged with a felony, according to state law. He said on Tuesday that he will not resign and that he expects to be sworn in at a later date.

"I'm going to continue on this. I'm not going to resign today, I'm going to continue this journey," he said.

Velez — a property manager and a father of two school-age kids — won 52% of the vote in the race to represent District 1, according to the unofficial election results.

In 1995, Velez pleaded guilty to aggravated battery, a second-degree felony which stripped him of his right to vote and hold elected office. That is, until Amendment 4 was passed in 2018, restoring the right to vote for Floridians convicted of most felonies, so long as they served their time and paid any associated fines and fees.

"When I started this journey, several years ago, a few years ago, when I got my rights restored, I wasn't expecting to run for office. I never thought I'd be here today," he said Tuesday.

But in order to regain the right to hold elected office, returning citizens must submit an application to the state Office of Executive Clemency.

When asked when he sent in his application, Velez told reporters speak to his attorneys.

"Today is not about me...today is the beginning of a new day for Broward County. For too long, for too many years, there's been corruption. And today with this new board...we're all going to do the right thing and do right by our kids," he said.

This story will be updated.

Gerard Albert III covers Broward County. He is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University. He can be reached atgalbert@wlrnnews.org
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