Bill Proctor, a Florida A&M University professor since 1986, is nearing the end of his term as Leon County District 1 Commissioner. Recently, Student Body President Ramon Alexander announced that he will run against the professor in the September elections. Both candidates are confident, but students may need more persuasion.
Proctor said that he feels he has been a source of inspiration to all of his students. He also mentioned the positive impact he feels he has on student life, from matters such as housing and towing to intervening disputes between students and law officials.
“I’ve taken class with him three times. It’s more of a free style rant. He should give up teaching and just work for the County Commission because evidently he can’t do both at the same time,” said Marcus Jackson, 24, a senior political science student from Montgomery, Ala.
Proctor became commissioner at age 36 – at that time being the youngest to win election in several years. Now, he is serving his 10th year after being elected chairman in January.
“I have a proven track record of redefining the paradigm of what commissioners can achieve,” Proctor said.
The commissioner’s achievements include the B.L. Perry Library construction on South Adams Street and the Orange Avenue expansion. Adrian Jordan, a senior from Washington, said “Proctor took the forefront in the taser incident,” referring to Proctor’s opposition to violent measures of police intervention.
Jordan said that Proctor can sometimes be abrasive, but that “he will always stand up for his constituents.”
Proctor says that he has the support of prominent FAMU students.
“I ain’t been nothing but good, sweet, and kind” to students, and in return they ask “What can I do to help (the campaign),” Proctor said.
Proctor said that his proven dedication to both students and the community is “the decisive difference in why (he’s) going to win” the election. “I don’t have nothin’ to worry about,” he said.
When questioned about his opponent, Proctor said “I’m honored to see young black men in the political arena.”
Although pleased with Alexander’s ambition, Proctor questions “what did he do as president” that would indicate competency as county commissioner, and “what newness does [Alexander] bring other than his face?”
Alexander has a differing opinion.
“I am 100 percent positive that I have the capacity to fill the position.” He contends that a candidate’s ability to act – not his or her age – should be the voting public’s primary focus,” Alexander said. “Young people fight wars, young people start movements.”
“Ramon is a very dedicated and strong leader. With Ramon you have to look at his actions on the board of Trustees fighting for the students,” Jordan added. “I don’t think that age really will have an effect, especially not in District 1.”
As SGA president, Alexander has navigated past a potential budget crisis, worked with the mayor to recommend the lowest tuition increase in 11 years, and helped the university ratify pertinent official documents. Alexander also helped organize the coalition for the Martin Lee Anderson case and has high expectations for community support.
Alexander correlates FAMU to the District 1, noting that “our students drive these roads, and live in these communities. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to fix roads in the community,” he said, but instead a leader should have “the ability to organize coalitions for the people’s needs.”
Alexander said that he knows the great potential District 1 possesses, and that he is “not running against anyone, but for the people in District 1.”
Alexander is also pleased with his student supporters. He says that “students are responding in massive numbers.” Quoting a phrase familiar to most FAMU students, he said “Age is nothing but a number,” and at 21, said “I can deliver.”
LaVeta Carroll, a political science major from Fort Meyers admits that Proctor will be a tough opponent, but said ” Whomever is elected, I hope that he will represent the true voice of the community.”
Karah Bailey can be reached at Karah1.Bailey@famu.edu