Williams-Cox’s removal raises ire of supporters

Dianne Williams-Cox


By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

A motion by County Commissioner John Dailey that resulted in Dianne Williams-Cox not being reappointed to the Planning Commission left her looking for answers.

“I don’t know what’s going on but this is a political town so everything is political,” Williams-Cox said, adding that she’d submitted paperwork for reappointment.

Williams-Cox, who was up for reappointment after serving three years on the Planning Commission, said she was not officially given a reason for not being reappointed. However, during discussion on Dailey’s motion to appoint Robert Volpe instead, commissioners argued that Williams-Cox could no longer serve because she is making a bid for a city commission seat.

The Commission voted 6-1 in favor of the motion by Dailey, who himself faces questions about remaining on the County Commission while running for mayor of Tallahassee. Dailey said he doesn’t intend to resign until Nov. 19, the same day he would be sworn in if he wins the mayor’s office.

That scenario would create a one-day overlap. Meanwhile, with the election for mayor being non-partisan, Dailey could become mayor-elect if he wins 50 percent plus one of the votes in the August primary.

Thus, raising another question over his announced plans to resign from the County Commission on Nov. 19. Dailey’s term expires on Nov. 20.

His recommendation  to replace Williams-Cox set off a firestorm of criticism from Williams-Cox’s supporters. Chief among them is County Commissioner Bill Proctor, who cast the lone vote against the motion not to reappoint Williams-Cox.

Proctor called the appointment of Robert Volpe to the seat that Williams-Cox held a racist and discriminatory act. He also contend that Dailey, who is running for mayor of Tallahassee should resign his commission seat immediately, citing the state’s resign to run law.

“He is sitting on the County Commission but she can’t sit as the Planning Commissioner and run for City Commission,” Proctor said. “What it shows is a White man telling a Black woman to give up her seat. Dailey then nominated a White man. 

“This is the Rosa Parks thing all over. Dailey told this Black women to get up out of her seat so he could put a White man in her seat. This is a 2018 act equivalent of 1955 when Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat to a White man.”

Part of his frustration, Proctor said, comes from the county’s attorney Herbert Thielel’s response about the issue. Proctor said Thiele responded to a memo that went to other commissioners, saying that Williams-Cox running for office while on the Planning Commission wasn’t a conflict.

During the meeting a week ago, Dailey was first to speak when an agenda item on reappointments came up. He immediately nominated Volpe.

Before Proctor offered a counter motion to “keep the balance” of race and gender on the seven-member Planning Commission, Commissioner Kristin Dozier appealed for keeping diversity on the Planning Commission, but favored Volpe.

Chairman Nick Maddox seconded Proctor’s counter motion, but later rescinded and called for the vote.

“The decision by the county commissioners to take down Dianne Williams-Cox from serving on the Planning Commission was in bad taste and wrong,” said Rev. R.B. Holmes. “The irrational reason was because she is running for city commissioner. What? 

“This is unjust and unacceptable. How many sitting commissioners run for another public office paid by tax payers? For example, John Dailey running for Mayor; Governor (Rick) Scott for senate, and a host of others. I am aghast that commissioner Dailey made such a motion and it passed 6-1. Mrs. Williams-Cox was not treated fairly (and) I’m asking the commissioners to reverse this decision.”

Members of the Planning Commission aren’t paid. Members are appointed – three each from city and county government, while the Leon County School Board also has a representative.

“She was serving in a non-paid position, she had every  right to serve on the planning board. If she wins a City Commission seat then she would gladly resign, but to be taken down in this matter is inappropriate.”

With Williams-Cox out, the Planning Commission has two positions to fill, including a member whose term expired and another who resigned.

Instead of naming an appointee to replace Williams-Cox, Dailey should not have been part of the reappointment process, Proctor said.

“I think that Dailey should have recused himself,” he said. “I think that is something we should look at.”