WFSU Public Media Chief Financial Officer David O’Keefe announced Monday that he will enter the race for Kristin Dozier’s soon to be vacant Leon County Commission seat.
O’Keefe is the fifth person to throw his hat in the ring to fill Dozier’s District 5 seat after she announced her retirement from the Commission last year. O’Keefe also announced he will resign from his role with WFSU in February to avoid any conflict of interest between working in management at a news organization and running for office.
A Jacksonville native, O’Keefe moved to Tallahassee to go to Florida State University 18 years ago. He said he decided to run because he believes local government isn’t working and residents are more concerned about local politics than ever after the public corruption trials and sentencings that concluded last year,
“I think people are sick of the old business as usual, and for good reasons. I think people have lost trust in our local government,” he said. “I can run as someone who lives a normal, everyday life and is not part of any insider influence, to regain people’s trust in local government.”
One of his strongest political stances is his opposition to the $20 million Blueprint funding allocation for repairs at Florida State University’s Doak S. Campbell stadium. He said he would be 100% committed to “preventing or walking back any sort of funding for this particular project.”
As a former FSU student and current employee, he said his opposition to the funding does not mean he doesn’t support the university.
“It’s a fantastic place to work and go to school, and it does wonderful things in the community. But this project is absolutely the wrong policy to pursue when so much of our public resources are at stake,” he said.
Meanwhile, O’Keefe said improving the availability of local affordable housing would be a priority if he was elected.
“People’s rents are going up year after year, and people can’t find affordable housing, never mind trying to be able to own a home,” he said. “It’s really up to our local leaders to take aggressive action on this and I think putting off big policy changes on this is just going to make the problem worse and worse.”
He also acknowledged that Dozier’s decision not to run for re-election has made the race to replace her interesting. He said while some of his policy priorities are different, he would want to continue her approach.
“I’ve always appreciated Commissioner Dozier’s thoughtful, detail-oriented approach, and that’s certainly something that people can expect for me,” O’Keefe said.
Locally, he has given a combined $683 to Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow’s 2018 and 2022 campaigns, and $130 to City Commissioner Jack Porter in 2020. Federally, he gave a combined $459 to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential bids, and $370 to Barack Obama in 2008. He has also given hundreds to ActBlue, a Democratic Party aligned donation management platform, over the past decade.
O’Keefe said he would describe his politics as progressive and watching Matlow and Porter win their races has helped give him confidence in his ability to win.
“When we see the first one, two or three new-to-politics, progressive candidates run and win, I say to myself, ‘Hey, it’s possible. It’s worth the effort.’”