In late July Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Jeffery Moore as District 2 commissioner for Gadsden County.
Moore, a white male, filled the vacancy after the resignation of Anthony Viegbesie, an African American male.
Moore became the only white member and only Republican on the five-member board. According to floridapolitics.com Gadsden County has the highest percentage of African American population in Florida at 54.4%, and it is the state’s only minority-majority county.
In mid-September, a photo of Moore dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume in his younger years began to circulate online. The KKK is one of the oldest and largest American hate groups, primarily known for making African Americans an immediate target. Less than three months in, Moore resigned his seat on Sept. 23, writing a letter to the governor and county leaders that said, “For personal reasons, I am no longer able to continue.”
Although Moore has dropped out of the race for District 2 commissioner his name will still be on the ballot in November.
“Any votes that go to Moore on this ballot will go to Larry Clayton, who now occupies the current position,” Gadsden County supervisor of elections Shirley Knight said.
Gadsden County has had a deep history of racism and segregation. The photo opened many historical wounds for some African American residents in the county, making them relive dangerous and tough moments in their lives.
Congressman Al Lawson, who grew up in Gadsden County, describes the photo as “a slap in the face.”
Some Gadsden County residents are saying that Moore didn’t have the right interests in taking the job knowing that the county is majority African American.
“I’m not African American, I’m Hispanic, so I have been through racist situations,” William Guerrero, a Gadsden County resident, said. “Our county is mostly Black, and I feel sorry for those this event brings pain to, this is a very serious situation and mockery shouldn’t even be a thought. I’m glad he is gone. He didn’t have the best interest for the job.”
Other commissioners on the board have taken a deeper look into the situation and started to ask questions about DeSantis’ ethics, and why he appointed a commissioner when surrounding counties have been without a commissioner longer than Gadsden County. It raises the question, is the type of person DeSantis is behind closed doors.
“We deserve a response; he needs to tell us if he supports this type of person or organization and explain why he appointed Jeffery Moore to our board,” Brenda Holt, a Gadsden County commissioner, said.