With one of the most brutally honest web page bios of any political candidate, Joe West is confident, despite a history of addiction, homelessness and failed marriages, his leadership would be better for Tallahassee than the slick, professional, scandal-ridden leadership of the politicians currently running the city.
Sober now for 20+ years, West said, “The only way one recovers from addiction issues is to become brutally honest with oneself and to stay that way. My bio is written as someone in recovery. Someone living in recovery must be honest with himself, must take responsibility for his actions. I have learned that.”
West said living with very little, he knows how to live within his means and how to do the right thing. He thinks those skills would serve the city well.
He’s lived a much different life than the current mayor and his predecessors.
Mayor Andrew Gillum has a college degree from FAMU and walked straight from college into the political world, serving on the Tallahassee city commission. From the outside he has the perfect family, says the perfect words, is slick and polished. Yet his tenure as mayor is surrounded with scandal, corruption and rampant political ambition.
West said he is not interested in relatives getting city contracts, lining his own pockets or climbing the political ladder.
“I am somebody who is willing to step up and say what we have now is not working. Let’s try something new or go back to what worked before,” he said.
West is calling for the office of mayor to no longer be elected but to rotate among the city commissioners as it did in the past.
“I am a candidate who is calling for the removal of the very office I’m running for,” he said.
“We don’t need half a million dollars for the mayor’s office and staff,” West said.
He believes the power of elected office combined with citizen apathy breeds arrogance and unethical behavior.
“If you need ethics written down, something is wrong,” he said.
“We have allowed our local elected officials to creep over lines and to continue to creep to the point where they’re so far past the lines, they don’t even know where the lines are. We, as citizens, have never stepped up and said, ‘no, you can’t do this,’” West said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve created a mold for what we consider to be leaders and that mold’s broken or should be broken. My hope is maybe if the City of Tallahassee can change the model for doing business on a political level, maybe that will catch on in other places and people will become engaged and hold people that represent them accountable,” he said.