Clemons Serves Once More

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Less than a week after Gerry Clemons wrapped up a 24-year career as Panama City mayor, he's back on another public board.

Clemons' former commission colleagues approved his appointment to the Airport Authority Board Tuesday evening. Commissioners voted 3 to 1 to appoint Clemons to the Bay County-Panama City Airport Authority.

Mayor Lauren DeGeorge cast the only dissenting vote.

"It was a shock to me because I did not have his resume. Dr. Trantham would have been a great selection, but I'm sure it's going to work out fine," says Mayor Lauren DeGeorge.

Clemons submitted only a verbal request to serve on the Airport Authority, leaving some to wonder if the appointment was decided well before Tuesday's meeting.

But Clemons’ former colleagues say a written resume is not required and they're confident with the former mayor's qualifications.

"If we have to lose that airport I want somebody in there fighting for my great grandchild. To make sure we get the highest dollar amount for the property. With all that said, I feel very good nominating Gerry Clemons to sit on the board," says Commissioner Kathryn Hanline.

The appointment elicited applause as well as boos from the crowd, leading Commissioner John Pilcher to remind the audience of the commission's long tradition of decorum.

"The decorum of this meeting and the integrity of this meeting will not change. It doesn't matter whose mayor. We conduct ourselves for what commission stands for," says Commissioner John Pilcher.

But it seems that long tradition may be coming to a close. The new mayor says she wants more audience participation and later meeting times.

"I want them to be involved. This is a Democratic setting. I want their input," says DeGeorge.

That's not all DeGeorge plans to change. Under her own 15-item agenda she lists things like hiring a full-time environmental planner and purchasing the old train depot for historic purposes.

No decision has been made on any of those items.