David O’Keefe and Paula DeBoles-Johnson advance to runoff in tight Leon County Commission District 5 race

The District 5 seat opened up with the departure of longtime Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier.

David O’Keefe and Paula DeBoles-Johnson squeaked out in a tight four-candidate race to advance to a Nov. 8 runoff for the Leon County Commission District 5 seat.

With all 32 precincts reporting, O’Keefe garnered 27.2% of the vote. DeBoles followed at 25.7%. It was a close race, as Dustin Rivest finished with 24.1% of the vote, while Jay Revell had 22.9%

“Tonight, the voters of District 5 sent a clear message — they are ready for a new direction,” O’Keefe said.

“Business as usual in local government has eroded public trust, and our ability to address our community’s most pressing needs. That changes this November. Everyday people are stepping to serve the public interest in Leon County, and the public interest alone. We are humbled that our volunteers, our supporters, and our neighbors, have put their trust in us to do just that.”

O’Keefe, who stepped down as the Chief Financial Officer for WFSU Public Media to enter the race, was endorsed by the Florida National Organization for Women, City Commissioner Jack Porter, former Mayor Debbie Lightsey and the Leon County Democratic Environmental Caucus.

O’Keefe said affordable housing is the biggest issue facing District 5 right now and that there is a path to alleviating the crisis.

“The Leon County inclusionary housing ordinance has never been invoked, and that needs to be addressed immediately,” O’Keefe said.

“Our ability to make zoning variances and affect annexations and service expansions should be leveraged to ensure that developers are including housing components that benefit all of our residents.”

DeBoles-Johnson, a longtime state and local government employee and executive director of a nonprofit she founded, received the backing of lawyer Ben Crump, the Big Bend Police Benevolent Association and Leon County Schools Assistant Superintendent Michelle Gayle.

The seat opened up with the departure of Kristin Dozier. The annual salary for the office is $83,945.

Aimee Sachs

Aimee Sachs covers politics in her hometown of Tallahassee and the Panhandle. The University of Florida graduate began her career as a sportswriter for the Tallahassee Democrat, Lakeland Ledger and MLB.com. She has also worked for Courthouse News Service and was a senior reporter for The Florida Channel before joining Florida Politics. You can email Aimee at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @AimSachs.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn