Five candidates have added more than $10K in open Leon County Commission race

Money jar with donations label.
More than $150,000 has been surged into in the race for the open Leon County District 5 seat.

All five candidates in the race for Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier’s seat have added more than $10,000 into their campaign coffers, according to February fundraising figures.

Dozier has filed for the Tallahassee mayoral race, leaving the Leon County District 5 seat open for the first time in 12 years. Candidates for her seat have had an arms race to compile funds, receiving or themselves contributing more $150,000 total to their respective campaign accounts. Two of the candidates are neck and neck, with over $50,000 added each.

Here is a breakdown of each candidate’s finances.

For profiles on the candidates, check out the first and second stories centered on this race.

Dustin Rivest

The Tallahassee small business owner paces the pack adding $51,000 to his campaign account. It has been built up with contributions from Leon residents, businesses and sizable personal investment.

Donors contributed $6,950 in February. Rivest has received 129 donations and $31,500 in total. In all, 26 local businesses have donated to him, including Tallahassee Welding & Machine and Miller Glass Company.

Rivest has also made the largest personal contributions in the race, giving $14,500 from his own coffers and $5,000 from business entities he owns.

He told Florida Politics the support he has received from local businesses and community members sparked him to personally invest in his campaign.

“I am proud of the support I’ve gotten so far from coming from a diverse cross section of hard working employees and business owners who see the vision I have for bettering the community. Their energy for a new outlook on the County Commission is incredibly encouraging,” Rivest said.

Jay Revell

The former vice chair of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and former aide to then-Leon County Commissioner John Dailey is a close second in fundraising, with $50,871.

His total is made up almost exclusively from donations, with $49,771 coming in from 153 donations. His $26,195.27 February haul also paced the pack. He has received the most business donations (28), including $6,000 total from six NAI Talcor subsidiaries.

In total, he has given himself $1,100 through personal contributions and a donation from his company, Revell Media.

Revell told Florida Politics public engagement is going to be at the center of his campaign. He said his campaign’s kickoff fundraiser was open to everyone and he will continue holding Town Hall meetings in District 5’s communities. 

“From the start of our campaign, we’ve invited our neighbors to be part of a larger conversation about the future of Leon County,” Revell said. “It’s cool to see so many people get involved.”

He said he believes several Tallahassee businesses have backed him because of his community reputation as a problem solver. 

“If we are going to tackle our biggest challenges, it will require businesses, nonprofits, neighborhoods, higher ed and government to all work together. People are enthusiastic about our campaign because I’ve worked hard for a long time to bring them together and get things done,” Revell said. 

Paula DeBoles-Johnson

The Leon County employee and nonprofit executive director has raised a little under half of the two fundraising leaders, with $23,371 from 202 donations in her account.

She had the second highest February with $8,625 raised. She has received no donations from local businesses and has made the smallest personal investment ($100) out of all the candidates.

Johnson told Florida Politics she believes her campaign and fundraising efforts are going well and is grateful for her supporters.

“This is a grassroots campaign powered by everyday working people. And every dollar donated has come from people who work hard and budget every dollar they earn. So I’m grateful for their decision to donate to our campaign,” Johnson said.

David O’Keefe

The former WFSU CFO’s campaign has hauled in $10,760. He raised the third most of any candidate in February, bringing in $5,325.

He has received $9,760 across 74 donations in total and contributed $1,000 of his own money to his campaign.

So far, O’Keefe has received no donations from local businesses.

In a statement to Florida Politics, he said raising more money is not a sign of how good a candidate is.

“I don’t believe having the most money is how you earn the right to serve the people of Leon County. We all know that business-as-usual politics are not working for our neighborhoods, so we are focused only on putting people first. Voters are paying attention and will not be fooled by big-money politics,” O’Keefe said.

David Hawkins

The Florida Department of Revenue employee has added $11,000, but hasn’t received a single donation.

Hawkins has made contributions to himself dating back as far as 2019. On his campaign website, he said he will keep his campaign mostly self-funded and that one of his campaign goals is to “do as much as I can to get the word out that I am running for County Commissioner without spending tens of thousands of dollars to do it.”

Hawkins told Florida Politics he has several reasons for self funding his campaign, one of them being he feels it would be wrong to ask supporters for donations while the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing.

“I feel the Citizens should spend their money feeding their families instead of my campaign,” Hawkins said. “Self funding is the right thing to do, and besides, I wouldn’t know how to spend $30,000, $50,000, $100,000 or more on a local campaign. It would be a waste of good ,money that could have been used to do some good for the homeless or food banks.”

He said he hopes people don’t vote for people based on the money they have raised.

“I don’t want their money, I want their vote and if I win, it will be an honor to work for and with the people of Leon County.”

Last updated on March 18, 2022

Tristan Wood

Tristan Wood graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Journalism. A South Florida native, he has a passion for political and accountability reporting. He previously reported for Fresh Take Florida, a news service that covers the Florida Legislature and state political stories operating out of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. You can reach Tristan at [email protected], or on Twitter @TristanDWood


One comment

  • TONY

    March 20, 2022 at 9:11 am

    It’s not that Candidate Hawkins hasn’t received a single donation, he hasn’t ASKED for any and he turns them down. He is the only Candidate that is self funded and with this election, that’s a GOOD thing in my book. There are too many questionable contributions to many of the candidates. I hope people do their homework and don’t just vote for the person that raised the most money. I like what Hawkins stands for.

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