A new day in St Johns County government

Historic City News editor Michael Gold was at the county auditorium this morning when a new day dawned on local government in St Johns County; when Circuit Judge Michael Traynor administered the oath of office to one returning commissioner, two new voices who were added, and officers for the coming year were selected.

Vice-chairman Jay Morris, representing District 2, was nominated by Commissioner Ron Sanchez, representing District 4, to become the chairman for the next year; replacing Ken Bryan. Morris nominated newly elected Commissioner Bill McClure to serve as vice-chair during the first year of his four-year term.

County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, the senior member of the current board, with eight-years’ experience, was installed today for District 1; beginning her third four-year term. During her first two years in office, 2004-2006, former commissioner Karen Stern served with Stevenson. There has been no other woman on the board since that time.

The election of Rachael Bennett has been seen as a positive step towards balance on a commission that has been dominated by some overbearing, and even notorious, men during the past eight years.

Commissioner Bennett was installed this morning as the new commissioner for District 5 — ending Ken Bryan’s one-term in office. McClure was installed for District 3 — ending Mark Miner’s one-term in office. Supporters were understandably disappointed when Stevenson rejected encouragement to take the lead as Chairman of the newly re-organized board.

District 2 and 4 will stand for election again in two more years.

Attendance was light — McClure’s mother, father, and two sons attended, Stevenson’s husband, Henry, and friends of incoming commissioner Rachael Bennett observed the brief ceremonies. Past county commissioner Herbie Wiles, Supervisor of Elections Vickie Oakes, School Board member Bev Slough, Anastasia Mosquito Control District commissioner Vivian Browning, a few other current and former elected officials, and representatives of local civic and business organizations, county department heads and a few staff members attended the morning session.

Cameras clicked and flashed during the installation ceremonies and during a cake-and-coffee reception; held in the rotunda of the County Administration Palace.

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