Leon County Commission Chair Bill Proctor has been in office since 1996, representing District 1 since 2006. Two candidates — Terrance Barber and Donna Pearl Cotterell — are hoping to unseat him in the Aug. 23 Primary Election.
“Twenty years has been enough,” Cotterell said. “We need a change in our priorities at the County Commission, especially as the incumbent has become increasingly out of step with the needs and interests of the people who live here.”
The nonprofit founder, educator and writer says she stands out because she’s the only candidate who lives in District 1.
“Everyone knows the incumbent lives way up north in Buckhead, and we need leadership that cares about District 1 because they wake up there every day,” she said.
Cotterell says the most important issues District 1 faces are “poverty, real economic development — not more giveaways for ‘the Bigs’ — and transportation infrastructure on the South Side, Bond, Allen Subdivision and Woodville.”
Her endorsements include former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff, StandUpTLH Co-Chair Lucia Sommer, and the Leon County Democratic Environmental Caucus.
On his campaign website, Barber says “The needs of our communities have been neglected for too long.” According to his site, the small business advocate lists community health, education, economic development and public infrastructure as his top issues.
“To improve our local economy, we need to focus on equitable investment in programs and resources that will empower local businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our workforce to support continued growth,” the website says.
Barber says he has had a “phenomenal” grassroots campaign.
“The community in general has been very supportive,” he said. “We have a lot of volunteer work, we’re doing door knocking. May not be raising as much money as some of the other folks that are running right now, but we are definitely spreading the word just as much.”
Proctor, meanwhile, says his priorities on the Commission are affordable housing, quality health care, education and economic development.
In February, Proctor wrote a letter to Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, criticizing him for his comments about donations he received from individuals connected to Florida State University ahead of a vote on the $27 million Blueprint allocation. Dailey told reporters not allowing the individuals to give contributions was a form of voter suppression. In light of those comments, Proctor accused the Mayor of supporting voter suppression.
“Enriching your political coffer before a 27-million-dollar vote is most revealing,” Proctor wrote. “Campaign greed and voter suppression are spectacularly different.”
The pastor and Florida A&M University instructor says he is “totally pleased” with his efforts to retain his seat. He has been endorsed by Grow Tallahassee and Florida Rising.
If none of the candidates receives more than 50% of the vote in the Primary, there will be a runoff in the Nov. 8 General Election.