First elected to the Leon County Commission in November 2010, Kristin Dozier is currently serving her third term as a Leon County Commissioner representing District 5. She is now running for Mayor of Tallahassee seeing broad discontent in Mayor John Dailey’s leadership of Florida’s Capital city.
Many of us who were privately critical of Andrew Gillum (and this site had authors who were publicly critical of him) had some optimism when longtime Leon County Commissioner John Dailey made the leap to Tallahassee Mayor, narrowly edging out Gillum’s former chief of staff Dustin Daniels to succeed Gillum in City Seat 4.
But Dailey’s tenure has featured many of the same excesses as past mayors’ — with an added haughty mean-spiritedness that has at times coarsened Tallahassee’s local civic affairs.
As mayor, Dailey has been a consistent vote for the languishing status quo, championing and helping to maneuver February’s final 7-5 vote for $20+ million for Doak Campbell stadium upgrades at the Blueprint sales tax agency, avowing support for the city’s controversial manager, and alienating even some allies with his tempestuous style chairing Commission meetings.
Dailey has repeatedly voted to end meetings early to shut down debates amid the growing dissatisfaction with transparency and questionable policy decisions, even making news for sidelining his colleague City Commissioner Jack Porter during a public meeting.
Dozier, meanwhile, has been a steady voice in Leon local government who has takes citizens’ input into account in her reasoning, and who has used her to experience and policy mastery to progress some significant issue “wins” at Blueprint – while also providing oversight and substantive discussion of problems at meetings on behalf of the public interest. Dozier has been a well-informed member of the County Commission, and was ahead of her time in her early criticisms of the old Chamber-sponsored Economic Development Council which later became the infamously slushy funding source of the Doak giveaway funds.
The candidates’ electoral bases and sources of political support are also a point of sharp contrast.
A campaign run more from the Governor’s Club and FSU Booster skyboxes than in Tallahassee’s underserved communities, Dailey’s campaign is awash in maximum campaign checks from Adams Street GOP-oriented lobbyists as well as the usual City vendors and developers that usually support local establishment incumbents.
Dailey also made a baffling decision to hire longtime Maddox-affiliated consultant and lobbyist Reggie Cardozo, also retained by David Bellamy’s campaign evidently to fill the role formerly played by VancoreJones who are keeping a lower profile this year.
Dozier is expected to do well in Tallahassee’s most liberal neighborhoods, among African-American voters and reform-minded GOPers could well join her coalition in August and in a possible November runoff.
But Dailey will also likely face trouble in his native Killearn, where his close ally Bryan Desloge was defeated by 14 points in the moderately conservative Northeast of the city in 2020.
As we mentioned in yesterday’s endorsement of Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, Dailey has close family ties to Florida Power and Light, which covets Tallahaassee’ municipal public utility for eventual privatization — a situation Floridians saw play out in a tawdry mega-scandal surrounding FPL, JEA and the City of Jacksonville. FPL also is now embroiled in controversy in west Florida, but we will save that conversation for another time.
FPL’s potential intervention in City elections is a major “X factor” in this race. With FPL government affairs folks asking the City Manager about city political districts, an ugly outcome looks increasingly likely.
Yet another reason to support Dozier, is Dailey’s endorsement by Grow Tallahassee, one of the most pernicious political actors in the area. The developer-funded front group — seen here evidently endorsed by FSU’s former Boosters chair and current Athletic Director — has released a slate of pro-developer candidates including Dailey.
Fortunately, Grow Tallahassee has lost both of the competitive 2020 races it has endorsed in badly, but they appear willing to spend untold thousands in dark money to avenge themselves and their small pro-Doak giveaway, pro-developer constituency.
Dailey has also continued the program of aligning with the same sort of consultants that have ailed Democratic politics in Florida. We’ll dive more into that issue in the future.
Dozier was arguably the MVP of the Doak giveaway opposition. Her excellent working knowledge of Blueprint’s parliamentary rules helped buoy the right side of history on the issue.
The contrast on Doak alone could plausibly power her to victory but, as with his allies, Dailey is raising huge campaign money which he will no doubt use to blanket the airwaves until August 23.
Dozier has rightfully earned a reputation as a thoughtful, deliberative policy maker on the Commission. Those looking for an ardent progressive fighter may not find their firebrand, but there is no doubt Dozier’s approach would make Tallahassee’s mayor’s office a great deal calmer and more reasonable.