Mayoral Farewell

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Friends and family held an emotional send-off Tuesday for the man who served as Panama City's mayor for the past quarter century.

It was standing room only at City Hall as Gerry Clemons presided over his last city commission meeting. Clemons was visibly shaken up from the show of support.

In his 24 years as mayor, Clemons put the city on sound-financial footing and at the same time lowered property taxes, but he might well become best known for his impact on the future.

It was under Clemons' watch that the city recently passed a sweeping new set of building guidelines and business zoning requirements.

As for his legacy, Clemons says he'd like to be remembered for his bureaucratic conservatism.

"I think an efficient meeting, a successful city. I think by any reasonable standard the city of Panama City is very successful. Comparing favorably with any other city in the country," says Gerry Clemons.

Clemons got a nice going away present. City commissioners voted unanimously to change the effective date for a supplemental retirement program to May 1. That will give Clemons and other select city employees a portion of their salary each month based on their years of service.

Clemons did not vote on the issue, citing a conflict of interest.