Former NAACP leader running for city commission seat

Tallahassee City Commission candidate Adner Marcelin. Photo courtesy: Marcelin

Adner Marcelin, a former president of the NAACP Tallahassee chapter, has filed to run for Tallahassee City Commission Seat 5.

Marcelin, who works with acclaimed local civil rights attorney Ben Crump, already had an interest in civil justice. He has worked alongside Crump on major national cases such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and George Floyd.

Marcelin decided to run for city office after a recent NAACP-sponsored town hall meeting in opposition to $20 million that was targeted for renovations at FSU’s football stadium. Seat 3 City Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox, who Marcelin had campaigned for in 2018, was among those who had voted to provide FSU with the money.

“These funds are supposed to drive economics into our city,” he said. “Does renovating the stadium bring more people to the stadium? No, the same people that come will continue coming. The ones who’s not interested just isn’t.”

Marcelin believes a compromise would have been appropriate. He opposed the $20 million and wanted the proposal to be reconsidered for the community.

“Some city commissioners are tone death and don’t listen to the community,” Marcelin said. “When you hold public office, you must always remember in the front of your mind, I am not deciding for me, but I am making the decision for the community.”

He said he supports focusing on economic growth such as homelessness in our community, believing that the $20 million could leave the community to starve looking for other resources.

“When you fix the homelessness and the areas looks great, it drives the economics up in the housing crisis that’s in Tallahassee,” he said.

Marcelin noted that there have been challenges as he prepares to challenge Williams-Cox.

“A lot of people put friendship as a determining factor of getting in the middle of politics,” he said. “They don’t want to ruffle any feathers.”

Being the local NAACP president for two years, he heard the cries in the community and their concerns.

“If you look at City Hall and those that advocate for the African-American communities, they do not look like us,” Marcelin said.

He believes in standing up for what you believe in, while having good intentions.

Hearing the outcry from students at FSU, FAMU, and TCC, saying they wanted information on what’s going on and asking why Black men are getting killed in Tallahassee and no one is talking about it, Marcelin said the community is owed a response.

“Giving updates, letting them know the issue isn’t being swept under the rug,” he said. “This isn’t an attack on individuals, this is about the issues within the community.”

Marcelin said that he spoke to Williams-Cox, and it is in mutual agreement that his candidacy is not a personal attack on her.

“I am not here to attack another Black woman,” Marcelin said. “What I am saying is, we cannot afford to wait for change to come. When I supported Commissioner Williams-Cox four years ago, there were a lot of broken promises. Especially promises to our Black community, and I want to make sure that as your next city commissioner we make good on those promises. We were promised retail at the Renaissance Center that has not happened, as well as investing in the public buildings both on the north and south side of Frenchtown.”

Theresa Wells, a former chair of the Leon County Democratic Party, says Marcelin has really impressed her.

“He did an outstanding job as the former president of the NAACP, and also the work he’s done with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump,” she said.

Marcelin is always doing good things for others without anyone ever knowing about it, she added.

Marcelin earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology at FSU, a master’s in business administration at Florida Institute of Technology, and a law degree from Western Michigan University, though he is not a practicing attorney.

The Rev. Lee Johnson, husband of former Tallahassee Mayor Dorothy Inman-Johnson, saw Marcelin’s leadership ability.

“I admire his courageousness, and his character,” he said. “He’s not afraid to ruffle feathers.”

Marcelin recently became an executive with Self-Help Credit Union, which works with disadvantaged people and is opening an office in Tallahassee. During his time as president of the local NAACP, and being out in the community, Marcelin has met with many Black, minority, and small business owners who struggle economically.

“The credit union does not serve everyone; we serve those who need a fair shot at equal opportunity towards economic success,” Marcelin said. “That is what my mission of the bank is here to do.”

Marcelin will face off against Williams-Cos in an August primary. If neither earns 50 percent or more of the vote, they will face each other again in the general election in November.