An unexpected controversy erupted in the Parker City Council meeting Tuesday night

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 9:58 PM CDT
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PARKER, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - UPDATE 03/18/21:

On Thursday, March 18, Ken Thomas issued a statement to NewsChannel 7. It reads, “During my conversation with April Gibson in February, I asked her, as a new resident to Parker, to consider applying for a volunteer position on the planning commission to learn how the city is organized and operates before launching a campaign for city council.

“There was nothing improper with this conversation, and this fact was confirmed to April directly by the Supervisor of Elections when she spoke with him.

“Additionally, per the Parker city codes, only the city council can appoint planning commission members. Individual members have no authority or means to circumvent the code. Honesty, integrity and ethics are fundamental to who I am. And my deep roots in this community reflect the honor and integrity of six generations of the Parker family.

“I welcome the upcoming voter engagement forums to tell my fellow citizens where I come from, where I’ve been, and where I am now on the critical issues facing our city. I know Parker. I love Parker, and I want to devote my time and service to a community that has always been part of my life. That’s why I’m running for city council, and I hope and trust our voters will recognize me as someone who shares their values and is the best choice to serve our city as we continue our recovery from Hurricane Michael.”

An unexpected controversy erupted in the Parker City Council meeting Tuesday night. A candidate running for city council, April Gibson, publicly accused another candidate, Ken Thomas, of misconduct.

“He would give me a seat on the City of Parker Planning Commission so that I would still have a role in the city,” said Gibson.

Gibson alleges that Thomas, who is currently on the Parker Planning Commission, told her he would get her a seat on the planning commission if she would agree to drop out of the council race, leaving him as the only candidate. Thomas fired back, saying that’s not true.

“There were no promises made. There were no bribes or nothing of any kind,” said Thomas.

As Gibson made the allegations in the public meeting, Thomas said he was only suggesting she get more involved.

“I did ask her if she would consider getting to know more and getting more involved,” said Thomas.

One council member asked the city attorney to clarify the legality of the allegations.

“So, at this point in time, they can do an investigation but, according to your understanding, what he did would not fall under anything that’s illegal?” Council member Crook Stewart, III, asked.

“Without looking at the specific statutes, I can’t say what I’ve heard was illegal,” Attorney Timothy Sloan answered.

A motion was made to remove Thomas from his position on the Parker Planning Commission, two voted in favor and three voted against.

“The council did what the council can do and anything else is in the purview of the complaint,” Mayor Rich Musgrave said.

Thomas declined to make a statement Wednesday until the transcript of the meeting is released. Gibson did agree to an interview with NewsChannel 7, and she says she’s not filing a formal complaint after talking with Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen.

“He said you absolutely can make an allegation. If you do, it’ll be 30 to 60 days before an investigation is completed,” said Gibson.

By then, the race, which is set for April 20th would be over. She says she just wanted to make her complaint against Thomas public.

“The intimidation, I won’t be intimidated,” said Gibson.

Meanwhile, Thomas maintains he was blindsided by the allegations.

“This is the first I’m hearing of this,” said Thomas.

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