Tallahassee surgeon files to challenge Jeremy Matlow, looks to ‘unify’ city

Dr. David Bellamy ART
Crime, public safety and 'smart growth' are among the challenger's top priorities.

Dr. David Bellamy, a surgeon and part-time police officer, will run against Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow in the upcoming 2022 election.

Bellamy filed Friday to oust Matlow from Seat 3, a position Matlow’s held since 2018. Speaking to Florida Politics, the orthopedic surgeon fashioned himself as a unifier and negotiator with a long history of devotion to the Capital City.

“I understand a lot of the history of Tallahassee, the good and the bad,” Bellany said. “I think my skills at coming to a consensus and trying to build compromises and build groups together is very good.”

The son of a former City Commissioner and Mayor, Bellamy worked as a police officer through college until becoming a surgeon. The experience, he said, familiarized him with community issues that often go overlooked by others. Bellamy now serves part-time as a medic with the Tallahassee Police Department while also practicing medicine. He will need to resign from police work if elected.

“I’m really there to help if anybody gets hurt,” he quipped. “I’m past the age of kicking in doors.”

Crime, public safety, and “smart growth” are among the Tallahassee native’s top priorities. He lamented Tallahassee outsiders who disrupt community-oriented approaches. The residents, he suggested, know best.

“As a policeman, I would see us get messages to stand down (or) to quit doing what the community may have actually asked us to do because one or two people that don’t even live in that community complained about it,” he recalled. “I think the city and the communities need to come to an agreement on how they want to do things and then everyone needs to stand their ground when outsiders come in and try to stop it.”

Without naming the incumbent, Bellamy said he believes he can do a better job if elected to public office. Bellamy specifically pointed to an HR complaint filed against Matlow alleging a hostile work environment.

Matlow denied the HR allegation, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I think that right now one of our Commissioners has gotten to where he’s relatively ineffectual because of how he deals with conflict, and I think I can do a better job of that,” Bellamy said. “I think I can do a better job of bringing people together, tearing down walls.”

Bellamy is the first candidate to challenge Matlow in the upcoming election and denies allegations that the Chamber of Commerce recruited him. The Chamber and Matlow frequently lock horns. So much so, State Attorney Jack Campbell called for Matlow’s ouster during a fiery Tallahassee Chamber annual conference speech.

Ousting Matlow won’t be easy. He is popular among progressive voters and a local business owner. As co-founder of Gaines Street Pies, the father of two employs roughly 85 workers in Tallahassee.

According to his public office bio, Matlow encourages the involvement of residents in local government and believes in advocacy for “everyday people.” In a statement to Florida Politics, he vowed to overcome the local Chamber’s alleged election effort.

“The establishment is cowering, the local Chamber is issuing bizarre ‘censures’ for the first time in its history, and their money will surely funnel into my opponent’s coffers,” Matlow said. “Fortunately for us, it wasn’t enough to save (Elaine) Bryant or (Bryan) Desloge. We’ve been very effective — and it’s not just my race they should be worried about.”

Matlow released an ad earlier this month highlighting working class residents and their contributions to the city.

They make “Tallahassee work,” the ad says.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.



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