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Tallahassee City Commission names finalists to replace Scott Maddox

The Tallahassee City Commission will soon appoint one of nine newly-named candidates to fill in for suspended City Commissioner Scott Maddox.

Mayor John Dailey and Commissioners Curtis Richardson, Dianne WilliamsCox and Jeremey Matlow recently picked three applicants each from a field of 93.

The city released a list of commissioner-backed finalists on Wednesday.

The City Commission will appoint the replacement at 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

The contenders: Elaine Bryant, Gallop Franklin II, Tabitha Frazier, Saralyn Grass, Byron Greene, Lila Jaber, Howard Kessler, Will Messer and Bruce Strouble.

Some members of the Commission supported the same members, suggesting these finalists could be early favorites to fill the Seat 1 vacancy.

Commissioners Richardson, Matlow and Williams-Cox all included Frazier in their shortlists. Frazier is the most frequent name on the shortlist. 

Frazier is the supervisor of the Leon County Soil and Water Conservation District. According to her resume, she also is a former Leon County Democratic Committeewoman and active member of the local party.

In 2015, Frazier founded a nonprofit dedicated to protecting local trees. In 2016, she founded the Leon Fruit and Nut Exchange, which Frazier claims moved more than 8,000 pounds of food to community members who need nourishment. 

Alongside Frazier as an early front-runner to replace Maddox is Strouble, who competed against Maddox for Seat 1 in 2016. Both Matlow and Williams-Cox backed Strouble. 

“Although defeated, I was the runner-up and received much public recognition for running an honest and clean campaign that excited thousands of Tallahassee citizens,” Strouble wrote in his cover letter to the City Commission.

Another former-candidate-applicant is Kessler, who earlier this year finished fourth in a five-way primary for Seat 5, won eventually by Williams-Cox. 

Matlow backed Kessler, an orthopedic surgeon and longtime former member of the Wakulla County Commission. 

Notably, no one on the City Commission picked 2018 Tallahassee mayoral candidate Dustin Daniels, who had previously served as former Mayor Andrew Gillum’s chief of staff. Daniels advanced to a runoff but ultimately lost to Dailey during the Nov. 6 election.

Dailey’s top three for the job are Franklin, Jaber and Messer.

Gov. Rick Scott suspended Maddox earlier this month after Maddox and former Downtown Improvement Authority Executive Director Paige CarterSmith were indicted by a federal jury for public corruption. Both are pleading not guilty to the charges in the 44-count indictment.

Written By

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at dmcauliffe500@gmail.com.

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