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Candidates for city commission district 5 talk ethics, government accountability

Shelby Green and Adner Marcellin
Lydell Rawls
WFSU Public Media
Shelby Green and Adner Marcellin at the candidate forum hosted by WFSU, the League of Women Voters of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Democrat

Two candidates are trying to unseat Tallahassee City Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox, who is running for a second term in District 5. The challengers are Shelby Green and Adner Marcelin. The two challenged Williams-Cox over her takes on city culture and ethics.

Green and Marcellin disagree with Williams-Cox on whether there is a culture problem at City Hall and if so, whether an independent ethics board should address it.

"We’ve all sat in the room when we had [a] measure come up by the independent ethics board, and we watched the current commission vote those measures down and then try to put incremental steps in there," said Marcellin, referencing recent attempts by the city's Independent Ethics Commission to get its recommendations codified in city government.

"We have a commission that needs to make sure this behavior is not acceptable, and the way that we do that is by having a transparent budget, transparent processes, processes where the public can participate and communicate," said Green, who expressed concerns about how local decisions are made.

Williams-Cox defended city government and the commission and pushed back against the skepticism leveled by Green and Marcellin at City Hall.

"The culture at City Hall is one that is thriving and growing because we have true professionals, from the janitors up that are doing everything we can to restore the public’s trust in City Hall."

This year's local election cycle comes against the backdrop of FBI Investigations that led to the convictions of a former city commissioner, a former city agency head, and a local developer. That same investigation recently led to charges against former Mayor Andrew Gillum.

It also comes as city and county commissioners continue to defend their positions on a controversial vote to give Florida State University $27 million in public money for stadium repairs while grappling over major questions
around how the city should address issues of growth, and development, and housing.

The forum was hosted by WFSU, The League of Women Voters of Tallahassee and the Tallahassee Democrat.

To see this and all the other candidate forums, go to

Follow @MargieMenzel

Margie Menzel covers local and state government for WFSU News. She has also worked at the News Service of Florida and Gannett News Service. She earned her B.A. in history at Vanderbilt University and her M.S. in journalism at Florida A&M University.