On Oct. 13, Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge appeared on Above the Fold with Tallahassee Reports Editor Steve Stewart. Desloge is running for reelection to the County Commission District 4 seat.
Desloge was elected in 2006 and ran unopposed in 2008, 2012 and 2016. This year, he is running against Brian Welch, a teacher at Chiles High School.
At the beginning of the show, Desloge discussed what he sees as highlights from his term so far, including tightening the County’s budget.
“When I walked into Leon County in ’06, we had a proposed budget of $290 million,” he said. “This was 14 years ago. The budget we’re operating under today is about a $275 million budget. So, we are operating on a budget that’s smaller than when I walked in the door 14 years ago.”
He said Leon County has “one of the leanest and most efficient workforces in the state.”
Desloge also discussed recent controversial issues related to the County Commission, including Leon County’s response to social justice protests. He said as Chairman of the County Commission, he is the one who implemented curfews over the summer because of both protests and COVID-19 concerns.
“The most recent time, I got a letter from the Sheriff who asked us to put the curfew in place,” he said. “We expected a lot more escalation on that Saturday where the people were arrested. People criticized and said it was overuse of police power. I’m not going to apologize for the police doing their job and keeping us safe.”
Another controversial topic was the mask mandate. After Governor Ron DeSantis made an executive order to move the state into Phase 3 of the reopening plan, the Leon County Commissioners voted to stay in Phase 2 and uphold the mask mandate in Leon County. However, DeSantis’ executive order took away local governments’ power to fine citizens for noncompliance with mask mandates.
“We’re in a little bit of a conundrum in the fact that we have an ordinance that has no effective penalty,” Desloge said. “So it’s a mask mandate, and we’re asking people to continue to follow the mask mandate, but there is no penalty.”
Stewart also asked Desloge about his opinion on the Children’s Services Council. When the CSC was last on the ballot in 2018, Desloge did not support it. He said he plans to vote for the CSC this year, but he has concerns over the new tax and the lack of clarity surrounding how the money will be spent.
“I’m going to vote for it, but I have to tell you, I have lots of hesitation still,” he said.
The rest of the interview is available here.