Gov. DeSantis makes overdue appointments to Drug Policy Advisory Council
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 9/21/21-Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, speaks during a news conference where he named Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, MD, PhD, right, Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of the Florida Department of Health, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The new appointees include 3 Sheriffs, 2 religious leaders and a mental health executive.

Years after their terms ended, Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed replacements for several long-serving members of Florida’s Drug Policy Advisory Council.

The 19-member panel, established in 1999, is tasked with helping the state coordinate drug-control efforts and provide public information on substance abuse and related services.

It includes nine high-level state officials, including Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Education Commissioner Manny Díaz Jr., as well as seven members of the public appointed by the Governor and one member each from the Senate, House and judiciary.

Two of the Governor-appointed seats are listed as empty on the Department of Health website. Two currently serving members, both faith-based substance abuse treatment representatives, were set to term out in November 2021.

Two others, one a drug enforcement professional and the other an expert in drug enforcement and substance abuse services, have served close to four years past their term limits. Another is three months from celebrating her sixth year on the council past her allotted term.

It appears all will finally be relieved of duty.

On Friday, DeSantis announced the appointment of six new members to the council. They include:

— Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, a former Criminal Justice Subcommittee Chair of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking and Vice Chair of the Hillsborough County Public Safety Coordinating Council.

— Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and current member of the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission and Lake-Sumter State College Foundation board of directors.

Dean Inserra, the founding and lead pastor of City Church Tallahassee. He is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and a prior member of the Florida Baptist Association Board of Trustees.

— Rabbi Meir Kessler, director of the Jewish Recovery Center and a Chaplain at Caron Renaissance who, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office, has dedicated almost two decades to advocating for recovering addicts and those in need of treatment.

— Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council and the Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, as well as a previous member of Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission.

Melanie Brown-Woofter, the president and CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health and immediate past president of the Tallahassee Kiwanis Club. She also now serves on the National Council for Behavioral Health.

They replace Peggy Sapp, President and CEO of The Florida Family Partnership, whose term on the Drug Policy Advisory Council technically ended in November 2017; prison housing reentry executive Kimberly Spence and substance abuse treatment executive Roaya Tyson, whose terms ended in November 2019; and human trafficking recovery executive Dotti Groover-Skipper and Christian schools association director John Van Delinder, whose terms ended in November 2021.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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