Panama City Mayor Gerry Clemons’ Last Day in Office

Thursday marked the official end of an era in Panama City politics, Gerry Clemons' last day on the job, and he spent it quietly reminiscing about the past quarter century as mayor.

Clemons remarked on his successes and regrets, pointing out that most of the successes had more to do with something other than his legendary leadership.

With the farewell parties gone and done, Clemons finds time to reflect on the past quarter century as mayor.

It was 1981 when he was sworn in as mayor. Downtown Panama City was a virtual ghost town and Panama City and St. Andrew marinas were privately operated.

Clemons helped change all that.

"We bought back the lease. It was somewhat controversial. We spent $2.5 million dollars refurbishing it. Today it generates revenue even after we pay the debt for services on repairs."

His biggest regret is also what some call his biggest success, expanding the city's borders. A third of the city now exists north of its original borders along US 231. Clemons says it still isn't enough.

"I wish I would have pushed for more land through the years. I tried several times and failed to get West Beach Drive and the land across from McKenzie Park. That I suppose is my biggest regret."

Almost everyone agreed Clemons' commission meetings where probably the most efficient in our area and his role in the city's surplus budget is undeniable.

"We have about $15 to $16 million in cash in the general fund."

But through all of these successes he credits those around him.

"An awful lot of good things happened while I was mayor. I'd like to claim credit, but under my watch most of the time somebody else was the driving force."

Still, Clemon's colleagues warrant his leadership in motivating them to succeed and the city is better for it.

Clemons spent one of his last days coaching new Mayor Lauren DeGeorge about the ins and outs of mayoral life. DeGeorge may have some big shoes to fill, but Clemons says she'll do just fine.


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