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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Mayor Steve Witt Running for a 5th Term: "There Is Still More Work to Do"


LAKE CITY, COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Early today Mayor Steve Witt told the Observer he has decided to run for a 5th term. For a while the Mayor was undecided. He said, "People that I trust asked me to run again."

Background

Mayor Witt was elected in a special election in 2005 for a term that lasted until 2008.

In 2008, he ran against Columbia County icon James "Mr. Mont" Montgomery. They were the only two candidates in the election. He won.

Your reporter asked the Mayor, "Do you think that was a big accomplishment to have beaten James Montgomery?"

The Mayor answered, "Hell, yeah. He was undefeated seven times as County Commissioner."


Mayor Witt takes the oath, with wife Jody holding the bible: 2012

In 2012 Mayor Witt ran unopposed and in 2016 his opponent was Audré Washington.

Mayor Witt has served as Lake City's Mayor for 15 years.

Why Do You Want to Run Again?

Your reporter asked the Mayor, "Why do you want to run again?"

Mayor Witt answered, "There is a lot going that I was a part of and would like to see finished: the New City Hall, the Blanche, Wilson Park, and all that. There's a lot going on downtown."

The Mayor explained that there is also a lot going on with the County, such as the Bell road project, which appears to be the beginning of a logistics hub, and the waste water plant on the east side of town.

Mayor Witt said, "I think there is a big four years coming. Surviving what goes on right now finalized my decision to run, because there will be ramifications from this on the City budget."

The Public's Right to Speak

Your reporter asked, "Many jurisdictions have restricted the public's right to speak. In these difficult times you have made sure the public will be heard. Why is that?"

Mayor Witt said, "I want everybody's opinion before I vote, not after I vote."

Mayor Witt spoke about transparency. "There is nothing that I don't want to be transparent."

Major Accomplishments

Your reporter asked, "What do you consider your major accomplishments?"

Mayor Witt responded, "We are finally making progress on growth that is planned, rather than reactionary."

He continued, "I said when I ran the first time, we are in a position in Lake City to plan our growth. We are not like South Florida that we grew before we planned. Growth is a partnership. It takes the citizens, the businesses, and government, it takes everybody working together. It also takes the City and the County working together."

Relationship With the City Manager

Your reporter asked, "How is your relationship with the City Manager?"

The Mayor feels that the city manager is a straight up honest guy.

Mayor Witt continued, "I've always said, 'Don't bury it; don't hide it; whatever it is let's deal with it and get it done.'"

The Mayor added, "Most people go down because of the cover up."

The Blanche

The Mayor is the tie breaker on a split vote among the City Council Members. He is the only member on the Council who is elected at large.

Your reporter asked, "The last thing I have to ask you about is the Blanche. You were the deciding vote on the Blanche. As Mayor, you will always be the deciding vote, which is a pretty big responsibility. Do you have any questions about that vote?"

Mayor Witt responded, "No. It was the center of attention of downtown Lake City and down the road it will continue to be the center of attention. I think once it gets on the tax rolls – and the new businesses that will be coming downtown also get on the tax rolls – it will prove to be the right decision."

Your reporter, "So you have no regrets about that vote?"

Mayor Witt answered, "Nope."

The City election is August 18.

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