Dailey and Daniels spar at forum

Dustin Daniels, left, John Dailey, right face off in open candidates forum.
Photo Submitted by Raiyana Malone

The race for Tallahassee’s next mayor is coming to a close. The two candidates, Dustin Daniels, Andrew Gillum’s former chief of staff, and John Dailey, who has served as a county commissioner for 12 years, faced off at an open candidates forum on Thursday at New Mt. Zion AME Church. The National Pan-Hellenic Council, the NAACP and the Tallahassee Barristers hosted the forum.

Here are some top takeaways:

With both candidates opening statements echoing the importance of building the community and accountability, it was in their responses to the audience’s questions where their differences were evident.

What do you think of the job Andrew Gillum has done as mayor?

Both candidates had positive responses.

“Mayor Andrew Gillum has done a fine job as mayor. I give Andrew extra credit for allowing the city of Tallahassee to be able to have self-governance,” said Dailey.

Daniels countered by giving praise to Gillum and then proceeded to call out Dailey for his past accusations against Gillum. “He didn’t have very many good things to say about him. He (Dailey) attacked him for his integrity and ethics,” Daniels said. Daniels also mentioned that Tallahassee needs a mayor who can work well with the governor’s office, implying himself.

How will you protect the human rights of transgendered people and people with nonconforming gender identity?

Daniels summed up his statement by calling for the current Humans Rights ordinance to be redefined with some “teeth” and wants to advocate for a better process based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Dailey, who was on the county commission at the time that the human rights ordinance was passed, recognized his long time colleague Bill Proctor, for helping to pass the ordinance. Dailey also argued that the ordinance does have “teeth” and stands firm as “the only city official to perform a same sex wedding ceremony.”

 Dailey decided to let his track record speak for itself.

According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, more than 80 percent of youth arrested in Leon County in 2016-2017 were African-Americans between 10-17. With gaps of education, juvenile justice, and health, what programs would you support for Tallahassee youth?

“We need to look at this from several different perspectives,” Dailey said. Dailey wants to focus on creating a new system to help screen youths and make sure 21st-century services are provided. Dailey also pushed for youths to graduate high school because “everything begins with that degree.”

Daniels turned to the responsibilities of the police department and wants to look into specialized training for the department. Daniels also wants to develop community connection programs so that the issues can be further discussed.

The last question posed is one that has been looming over the city of Tallahassee.

Do you oppose receiving contributions from large corporate donors? If you do not, how can we be sure you would govern the city for us and not large donors?

Daniels said that as a candidate he proposes the ban on individuals accepting donations from city and county vendors. He said he agreed with responsible campaign finance reform.

As a county commissioner, Dailey said that the city already does a “very good job.” He noted that the problem lies within political action committees created by local candidates. “Corporations can donate unlimited amounts of money. It’s a conversation for elected officials to have moving forward.”