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Lake City Council appoints business owner to fill District 14 seat

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 11:18 PM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - After trying several approaches in deciding on a candidate, the council chose business owner Stephen A. Douglas to fill the District 14 seat on Wednesday. Chris Greene resigned from the seat early Sept.

“This will give me one more opportunity to give back,” Douglas said.

The Lake City Council charter calls for members to appoint someone instead of holding a special election and the council interviewed five candidates.

“I was prepared for a complicatedly found decision,” Councilman Eugene Jefferson said.

After three failed motions, a discussion and trying a ranking system, Councilman Todd Sampson motioned to appoint Douglas and Eugene Jefferson seconded.

Sampson said he did so because of Douglas’ finance background.

Related story: Lake City Councilman Chris Greene suddenly submits letter of resignation

Councilman Jake Hill voted in dissent, as he believed Ricky Jernigan who once ran for the seat deserved the position.

“He has put his time in trying to get here,” Hill said.

Several residents spoke before interviews began expressing support for Bea Coker.

Related story: Five candidates currently in running for at-large Lake City City Council seat

While she was Jefferson’s first pick, he believes Douglas will bring integrity to the board.

“I felt that he carried some of that with him and hopefully he will be, I don’t want to say a balancer, but fit in and bring that to the table,” Jefferson said.

Douglas has served on the lake city chamber of commerce board and lake shore hospital authority board.

“I’ve been a business owner since 1998,” Douglas said. “I own a self storage business and I’ve been successful with that and now it’s time to put some energy towards paying that back because the community has been so good to me and my business.”

Chris Greene resigned from the seat abruptly without saying why.

From investigations into different departments and controversy surrounding former interim city manager Ami Fields, the city council has faced several issues. Fields resigned after Greene.

Douglas said his focus is filling vacant positions at the city like HR manager and city manager to help build a better rapport between the council and the community.

“There’s no question that the city council has been stumbling for the past 12 or 18 months,” Douglas explained. “We’ve got to fill those positions. Stability at the top is crucial and the city council are the ones to have that stability and then it flows downwards.”

The regularly scheduled election for the seat will be held late next year and Douglas said he’s not sure if he will run. He will be sworn in on Monday.

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