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Matlow and Bellamy spar over City Commission Seat 3

bellamy on the left and matlow on the right shaking hands
Suzanne Smith
WFSU Public Media
David Bellamy and Jeremy Matlow shake hands at the end of the forum hosted by WFSU.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow is running for a second term in Seat 3. He faces a single challenger: orthopedic surgeon David Bellamy. During a Wednesday candidate forum, the two covered a lot of ground—and rarely agreed.  

On affordable housing, Bellamy said one of the biggest hurdles is permitting. Permitting is expensive, and so is the cost of infrastructure, such as roads and sewers. Bellamy says the city could pay those costs to reduce the price of housing to an affordable range.  

"Right now you would invest $110,000, if you bought the lot, got it permitted, and put in infrastructure. Then another $140,000 for a house -- that’s a $250,000 house at best, and we’re already out of the affordable range," Bellamy said. "You have the city provide the land, the permitting, and the infrastructure, and a builder could build a house for $140,000 that’s built to the standards written by the city’s permitting process."  

Matlow endorses a housing plan proposed at a gathering in April at a west-side church: for the city to establish an affordable housing trust fund and to fund it. He said the city owns hundreds of acres it could make available for affordable housing  

"But we have to actually do it and put our resources there. We can’t keep deterring our resources to other initiatives," he said. "I look at Blueprint. Blueprint’s a great opportunity to provide land for us to acquire for affordable housing purposes instead of big developer giveaways at Welaunee. Instead of Doak Campbell Stadium giveaways, why are our most flexible dollars not being used to address our number-one issue?"  

The candidates were asked to name one thing that differentiates them from their opponent. Bellamy cited his late mother, former Tallahassee Mayor Carol Bellamy.  

"I believe I am much better at getting along with people, making compromises, delivering results, understanding that you can’t always get everything that you want," he said. "You’ve got to compromise. My mother was the mayor in the 80s, and I still have patients that will come to me and say, 'When I met with your mother, I didn’t get anything I wanted. But I left there liking her, respecting her, and willing to work with her again.' That’s how you get things done."

Matlow said his campaign has drawn citizens together to solve the city’s problems.  

"I’m proud of uniting broad bipartisan coalitions to oppose Doak Campbell Stadium, tax increases… to stand with our neighbors in Killearn against road projects that were threatening their way of life," he said. "The real difference we see in our campaigns is my campaign’s being funded by everyday small-dollar contributions. David’s campaign is being funded by big special interests who are on the receiving end of millions of dollars of city contracts."  

The forum was hosted by WFSU, The League of Women Voters of Tallahassee, and the Tallahassee Democrat. You can watch this and all the other candidate forums on wfsu.org.  

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.