The Tallahassee City Commission has named Elaine Bryant as its newest member. Bryant fills the seat Scott Maddox previously held prior to his suspension from office.
The process for selecting a replacement for Maddox has been rife with criticism, an issue newly elected commissioner Jeremy Matlow acknowledged saying, “if you’re unhappy with the process today, tomorrow is the day you come out.”
Instead of holding a vote, as some had called for, the commission fielded more than 93 applications for the job, and whittled the list down to nine finalists. From those nine, there were four: former Florida A&M University pharmacy professor Gallop Franklin II, Bruce Strouble, who ran for the seat two years ago; government consultant Elaine Bryant and Grasslands Brewery co-owner Saralyn Grass.
Bryant received a unanimous vote by the commission and was promptly sworn in. She called her appointment “an extreme honor,” and thanked the current commissioners for “allowing me to share my vision for where we can go as a city.”
She also thanked new commissioner Diane Williams-Cox for the nomination.
Bryant is a Florida A&M University graduate who has worked in numerous state agencies, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and most recently, the Florida Department of Financial Services as its Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development. She’s owned EW Bryant Associates, LLC since 2000.
Mayor John Dailey specifically touted Bryant’s work in organizational management, saying he was “intrigued by” her work in strategic planning, which he says the city could use.
Bryant will serve out the remainder of Maddox’s term, which is up in 2020.
Maddox was suspended from office earlier this month following a 44-count federal indictment. Under state law, if the commission didn’t name a replacement, Governor Rick Scott could have.
Other finalists for the position were: Will Messer, Lila Jaber, Tabitha Frazier and Howard Kessler.
During public comment, local businessman Erwin Jackson opposed Jaber and Frazier’s nomination. Jackson pointed to Jaber’s role on the local ethics board, and during her presentation, Jaber told the public she chose to resign from the board after a year to be present for her sister’s mastectomy. The Leon County Republican party opposed Frazier’s nomination over concerns about incomplete financial disclosure forms and “self-dealing” with a grant she received while serving on the Leon County Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
Will Messer, a Tallahassee insurance agent, noted the commission appeared more inclusive with its consideration of him, but noted that 30 percent of the city are registered Republicans yet all members of the commission are Democrats.