Bryant running on her record against field of newcomers
Incumbent City Commissioner Elaine Bryant has drawn a field of three challengers in her first campaign for office, with two of the people trying to unseat her vowing to do away with special interest if they’re elected.
All three of her challengers are running for an elected office for the first time. Bryant herself is a virtual newcomer to politics after being appointed a little more than a year ago to replace Scott Maddox, who was indicted on corruption charges in December 2018.
“I now have a record that people can reflect upon,” Bryant said.
However, none of her challengers cited her personal record. Jacqueline “Jack” Porter and William Moore V, questioned the commission as a whole. Jermaine Miller, the other candidate in the race, declined to be interviewed.
A primary election for municipal positions is scheduled for Aug. 18. If a runoff is necessary it will be held in the general election on Nov. 3.
Porter, who served three years (2016-2019) as commissioner on the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, said one of her goals is to “focus on practical commonsense solutions” if she is elected.
Porter said she decided to run because the City Commission hasn’t always been responsive to people’s needs. She also contends that while Maddox was removed, there still has to be vigilance about corruption because of the influence of special interests.
“I think that people that were paying attention and people who weren’t knew that we had a problem with corruption even before that commissioner (Maddox) was removed,” she said. “That person being removed from that seat did not get rid of the problem by any means.”
Porter said she had a virtual launching of her campaign on May 24 and the event attracted more than 100 people. She intends to continue campaigning on digital platforms because of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
The stay at home order that was issued in March also made it difficult for her to get enough signed petitions to get on the ballot. However, she said she’ll pay a $395.88 fee during the qualifying period that runs from June 8 to June 12.
Moore, who at 19 is the youngest candidate, also will have to pay to get on the ballot because of the impact of the pandemic. He also expressed concern about special interest, saying he will only accept donations from environmental groups.
“Those ideas I personally align with,” Moore said. “I’m not going to accept a donation and then change my beliefs or views in order to obtain that money. I’m not going to let those donations change what I’m going to do in office.”
If he is elected, Moore said he’d push to get nature integrated throughout the city. Proving rehabilitation and behavioral change among the homeless will also be issues he’ll work on, Moore said.
Bryant, a management consultant who is president of E.W. Bryant Associates, said her background has helped her adjust to being a member of city government. But admittedly, she hasn’t always had an immediate answer for everyone who calls on her.
“I don’t have a problem telling a citizen that I have to research this issue and that I don’t have answers without research,” she said. “I think people just look for truth, whatever that is.”
Bryant said her campaign has been on hold while she addressed city business during the pandemic, but she hopes to resume calling on voters within the next few weeks.
As she seeks reelection, she intends to build on the relationships she’s established with citizens. That, she said, is essential to her longevity on the commission.
“Before I got into this role, I had plenty of opportunities to establish relationships so I understand the value of that,” she said. “I served on many non-profits in addition to my regular employment. The only way leaders actually can lead and be successful is that they learn quickly how to establish relationships; positive relationships.”