Life in county complex could be interesting over the next four years

November 20, 2012

Lumon May and Steve Barry were both appreciative of their families and supporters today when they had their opportunities to speak. Barry, who replaced Kevin White in District 5, said, “I’m very excited to serve the county I love.”

May gave thanks to his mother, father, grandparents, wife and his campaign supporters. He said that he was humbled to serve. “I will be the advocate for those who haven’t had a voice,” said May, who is only the third African-American county commissioner since District 3 was carved out by a federal court order in the early 1980s.

Wilson Robertson stepped down today as the chairman of the county commission. The commission rules rotate the chairmanship by district every year, so Robertson will not serve again as the chairman before he completes his final term. Gene Valentino is the new chair. May takes over next year, followed by Grover Robinson and Barry.

The commissioners that were sworn in today can all claim mandates from their districts:

District 1: Robertson 65% vs. Bobby Spencer 35%
District 3: May 71% vs. Tiffany Washington 21%
District 5: Barry 70% vs. Packy Mitchell 30%

However, Barry and Robertson had tough primary races. May won his easily, but Barry was in a five-person race and narrowly beat Sam Archer (41% to 38%). Robertson had only one opponent, Jesse Casey, and spent $111,149.87 to beat the newcomer by just 32 votes – 3369 to 3337. Today, Robertson rightfully thanked his contributors. He should have because he needed to spend $33 per vote to win the primary. Casey had only raised $37,981.

In total, Robertson raised over $136K—more than any other local candidate.

Commissioner Robertson wove today a conspiracy to create a boogie man–the Pensacola News Journal–to explain his problems with the public. The thought that the News Journal would have a vendetta against him over the commission’s decision in Jan. 2010 to not support consolidation is ridiculous. The Pensacola City Council and the Town Council of Century also voted against the consolidation proposal. His stance wasn’t any more important than theirs.

The Gannett woman whom he claims said the paper was going to attack local officials in order to compete with Internet was Barbara Wall, one of the top First Amendment attorneys in the country. She never would make such a statement. Probably she said something about newspaper being watchdogs over local governments.

As for our paper, Malcolm Thomas and me, we don’t deal in political careers -could care less about them. We review, investigate, analyze and criticize the job performances of local elected officials. Apparently Wilson Robertson and I have very different views on Thomas’ job performance. Dozens of African-Americans in the commission chambers today also have a very different view from Wilson’s when it comes to Superintendent Thomas’ job performance.

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