Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online news service

Lake City News

Lake City Swears In Councilman Todd Sampson, Councilman Jake Hill, and Mayor Steve Witt

City Councilman Todd Sampson of Lake City took the oath of office as his wife held the bible.
Shortly after taking the oath, Laura Sampson is holding the family bible as daughters Aubree (left rear) and daughter Matilda stand by. Councilman Sampson told your reporter, "My election is about the future, for my children, everyone's children, and for the future of this community." Observer photo and graphic.

LAKE CITY, FL – The 2021 Lake City Council took shape last night when new City Councilman Todd Sampson and Veteran Councilman Jake Hill, and Mayor Steve Witt took their oaths-of-office.

 Lake City Councilwoman Melinda Moses at her last official council meeting.
Veteran Councilwoman Melinda Moses during the invocation. No doubt, she had good thoughts for her community. In a few minutes, her 12 year Council career would be over.

Before the new and returning Council members were sworn in, twelve-year veteran Councilwoman Melinda Moses said a few words of thanks to the City Council members and the public.

Ms. Moses, who's working career was with the Columbia County School District, was teary-eyed as she wished everybody and the City well.

Mayor Witt presented Ms. Moses with a City proclamation celebrating her years of "dedicated" service.

While in office, Ms. Moses was involved in some controversial issues and, from time to time, took a lot of heat. She was always gracious and, throughout her tenure, was one of Lake City's biggest boosters, reflecting on more than one occasion on the perception of Lake City and the County, "Lake City is [seen as] Columbia County."

City Councilman Todd Sampson: The New Guy on the Block

Todd Sampson took his Oath of Office surrounded by the Sampson women, all six of them.

Todd Sampson is given the oath of office as his wife holds the family bible and his five daughter look on.
City Clerk Audrey Skies gives Todd Sampson the oath, as the Sampson women look on: from left to right back row: daughters Hanna, Aubree, and Mrs. Laura Sampson holding the family bible. In the middle row (l-r) Lola in purple and Matilda (mask). In the front row, 4 year old Leneah, who told this reporter before she went on stage for the photo, "I want a baby brother." ++ enlarge

Last month, Mr. Sampson laid out his ideas for 'moving' or, as he calls it, "Growing the City forward."

He told the Observer, "The biggest issue facing Lake City and Columbia County is the lack of concerted focus on our future. Specifically, we want to attract companies with career track opportunities for our children."

He added that there was not enough communication between the City and the County.

Mr. Sampson said, "This isn't something we should expect only our local schools to work toward. It should be a concerted effort that brings all the stakeholders into the process. We need to bring together the City, County, School Board, Florida Gateway College, Career Source Florida Crown, and our Federal and State elected officials.

In 2016, Florida Gateway College President Larry Barrett was supposed to make this happen. He never did.

Mr. Sampson also took a position on affordable housing. "We need affordable housing," he said.

He continued, "As the need grows, we see more and more inaction on this issue. More than a few City lots could be developed if dwelling requirements were relaxed. Accessory dwellings also need to be allowed and even encouraged."

Mr. Sampson wrapped up his ideas on affordable housing, "We need to help people in substandard housing and blighted areas. Florida funds SHIP repair programs, and we should do a better job communicating this. We don’t have to wait until the next Community Development Block Grant to get started. We can begin now. We need local developers and banks to pursue Federal Home Loan Bank grants and reduced rate financing. These can be pursued now. The opportunity is available."

Workforce development and affordable housing have been on the City's agenda for some time.

Mr. Sampson would seem to have allies on the Council, and in the County, for these important projects.

Veteran Councilman Jake Hill

Councilman Jake Hill takes the oath of office as his wife Deborah holds the family bible and his children and grandson look on.
Veteran Councilman Jake Hill takes the oath as wife Deborah Hill holds the family bible. Looking on from left to right are daughter Da'Brea Hill, grandson Onxy, and son Ja'Keem Hill.   ++enlarge

Councilman Jake Hill is not a quitter.

In 2012 he was challenged by Walmart executive Zack Paulk and defeated. Mr. Hill vowed to regain his seat.

In 2016, in a tight race, he won by hard work and grit, regaining his seat.

This year, he had another tough challenge and rose to the occasion to keep his Council seat.

Over the years, Councilman Hill has often stood alone on the issues that are important to Councilman Sampson.

Early today, Councilman Hill echoed Councilman Sampson's remarks about this election being about the future of Lake City.

He said, "I had a tough fight this time. Every time I have been elected, I was always looking toward the future. I am looking forward to working with the new councilman, the Mayor, and Councilman Greene and Jefferson. I am optimistic that we will be moving the City forward for the citizens."

Mayor Steve Witt

Long time Mayor Steve Witt was sworn in last night without his wife Jody at his side.

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt takes his fifth oath of office.
Mayor Witt takes the oath for a 5th time.

Today, she explained that she has had cancer for some time, and her immunity was really low.

She continued, "With all the stuff going on with the coronavirus, I can't afford to go out in public. If, after 15 years in office and nobody chose to run against him, he must be doing a good job."

In the past, Mayor Witt has taken a lot of heat for some of his decisions. He never lost his cool, always maintained his dignity, and always gave the public its chance to be heard.

When the local mainstream print media vengefully went after him, he stood tough, ran again, and won.

You can read more about Mayor Witt's 2020 mayoral run: Mayor Steve Witt Running for a 5th Term: "There is more work to do."

Jodi Witt concluded, "I regret not being able to hold the bible for him."

Comments  (to add a comment go here) 

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.