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Tonight At 5 pm the Lake City Council Will Select One of Five Candidates to Fill Its Vacated Seat

Photo of thinking woman with caption: Tonight the council will vote to fill its empty seat. It will demonstrate what it collectively thinks are important qualifications for a city council member.
Photo: Jonathan Cosens-Photography via Unsplash | Columbia County Observer graphic

LAKE CITY, FL – Tonight, beginning at 5 pm, the City Council will select another member to fill the vacated seat of Councilman Chris Greene. Five candidates are vying for the position: three men and two women. Presently, the Council is made up of all men.


On September 6, 2021, a coup to remove Interim City Manager Ami Fields failed. Then Councilman Greene, along with Mayor Witt, voted to remove Ms. Fields. The word was that Councilman Jefferson was to be the third vote and switched his vote at the last minute.

Councilman Sampson had made accusations claiming that some of the Councilmen were talking among themselves about the coup. Council members talking about an issue among themselves outside of a meeting is against the Florida Sunshine law.

On September 9, 2021, Councilman Chris Greene resigned.

His resignation letter was one sentence: “Effective immediately, I resign my position on the city council for the City of Lake City.”

The City Charter requires that the vacated seat be filled this way: “(If less than two (2) years and sixty (60) days remain in the term of office, the council shall within sixty (60) days from the date the vacancy occurred, by a majority vote of the remaining members, choose a successor to serve said unexpired term of the vacated council seat.”

This section of the Charter was glossed over during last year's Charter review, facilitated by City Attorney Fred Koberlein, who has his sights set on becoming a circuit court judge.

October 4, 2021:  The Council Meets

Link to article about the candidatesBefore the October Council meeting kicked off, a list of questions and a scoring matrix were made available for the consideration of the Council.

The source of the questions was not revealed until after the meeting. According to Interim City Manager Mike Williams, he and the City Clerk came up with the set of questions and a scoring matrix at the request of Mayor Witt.

The Council rejected the scoring matrix, but retained the questions.

Mayor Witt announced the meeting would be October 13 at 1:00 pm.

This middle-of-the-day meeting made it so working people would not be able to attend.

Your reporter came to the microphone and was recognized, “I don’t think this is fair to have this at 1 o’clock in the afternoon where the public can’t see what’s going on.”

Councilman Sampson said, “Maybe the timeframe is kinda early.”

There was a long pause.

Mayor Witt said, “We ain’t sure what we wanna’ do.”

Mr. Sampson said, “I think we could decide now.”

Mr. Jefferson’s remarks were mostly unintelligible. He said something about the time.

Mr. Sampson suggested, "Maybe five or 5:30 would be a better time.” He asked if anyone had anything to say “about the questions that were handed out.”

Mayor Witt did, but he mostly could not be understood.

Mayor Witt asked, “Anybody want to make a motion?”

Mr. Sampson made the motion, “We move forward with these questions and this process. At the end, we would select someone based on a motion and a vote.”

After the motion passed, Mr. Sampson mentioned the meeting time. “What time’s good? Move it to five-thirty, six o'clock?”

The Council agreed on 5 pm.

The 7 Questions:

The City Council will be asking seven questions:

1.    Have you resided in City Council District 14 for the past year? 

2.    Are you a qualified voter? 

3.    Do you meet the minimum requirement to be considered for the District 14 City Council vacancy?

4.    Please take two minutes to tell us a little bit about yourself and why you are the best candidate for this position.

5.    Please tell me about your education and/or skill set you would bring to the City Council.

6.    Please share with us your knowledge of our community.

7.    Please share what organizations and/or community involvement you are active in. 

There will then be additional questions as the Councilmen see fit.

The Format

Rather than have all the candidates sitting in a row and alternately asking the questions, the Council will be marching them in one at a time.

While it is a public meeting and they can't be required to wait outside the council chamber, that is what is planned.

The candidates will be able to watch the proceedings on their smartphones.

It is unclear if they will all wait outside.


Tonight, the City Council will demonstrate what it collectively thinks are important qualifications for a City Council member.

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