Leon County Ground Zero in Culture War

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The local governments surrounding Florida’s State Capitol have been the most vocal in their opposition to state mandates on masks and vaccines. They are becoming the epicenter of the current culture war.

In Leon County, nearly six of ten voters chose Andrew Gillum over Ron DeSantis.

“The Governor is pulling all the strings,” Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna said.

The School Board has been cited for violating the state’s mask mandate ban.

“Our community is very different than Miami-Dade, or Duval, or Hillsborough,” Hanna said.

And Leon County is the only one so far to have been issued a notice of violation for requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Now, the city is joining a legal challenge of HB 1, the so-called ‘anti-riot’ legislation. It’s over a provision that allows the state to intervene if local governments defund police.

“The voters here in Tallahassee and the people who live here expect us to make a decision with their tax dollars and we need to have the ability to do that,” Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said.

The clash is proof all politics are local.

“I not only voted for it, but I spoke in favor of it on the House Floor,” Representative Chuck Brannon said.

Brannon chairs the House Criminal Justice Sub Committee.

“No, no negative feedback at all,” Brannon said.

In 2018, Ron DeSantis made only private appearances at the Capitol, but for Democratic candidates, it’s a regular stop. Gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist used the Capital Thursday as a backdrop to call for the full legalization of marijuana.

“Because I believe if you can brew your own beer, you can brew your own weed,” Crist said.

Crist told reporters he would use tax revenue from legal marijuana to fund other criminal justice and sentencing reforms.

There are two Democrats running against Ron DeSantis. A third is likely, and these culture wars won’t likely be decided until 2022.

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