Joyce Marie Taylor
State Senator Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, and District 7 State Representative Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, held a Legislative Delegation meeting in Mayo on Monday, Dec. 17 in the county commission chambers at the Lafayette County Courthouse. This was their ninth stop in the 13 county region they represent.
After a bit of a delayed start due to Senator Dean getting stuck in traffic on his way to Mayo, the Lafayette County Legislative Delegation meeting got off to a pleasant start as Dean thanked his constituents for their support over the years. The 2013 Legislative Session, Dean said, will convene in Tallahassee on March 5. Dean brought with him his legislative assistant Chase Daniels.
“It’s good to be back and it’s good to have a new partner sitting beside me here,” said Dean of newly elected Representative Halsey Beshears.
Beshears said he had met almost everyone in the audience before.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be here,” said Beshears. “I’m your representative and I tell everybody out there, though, I put it back on you. I can’t keep in touch with everybody, so please don’t ever hesitate to call or get in touch. You have to communicate and let us know. There’s really no excuse anymore not to be in touch with your representative. It’s so easy to access us now.”
Beshears said one of the reasons he ran for state representative was because of Dean and his principles. He then introduced his legislative assistant Vicky Summerhill, who was sitting in the audience and urged folks to get in touch with either one of them if they had issues that needed to be addressed.
Some of the elected officials who were invited to the meeting included the mayor of the town of Mayo, the city manager and city council members, however, they were not in attendance.
Dean said, “I don’t take that as a snub. I take that as we’re doing a good job and they don’t want to complain.”
Newly elected Lafayette County Supervisor of Elections Travis Hart was sitting in the audience and when Dean spotted him he said, “I don’t want to bring anything unpleasant up, but I used to have a former employee,” which elicited laughter from everyone. “We’re so proud of you, I’ll tell you what, very much, Travis. I’m looking forward to seeing you working with the good government in this county. It’s been a pleasure to have you work with me and all the good times we had together.”
Hart, later in the meeting, said, “I just want to tell all the folks of Lafayette County, you’ve got some good representation up here. I’ve worked with Senator Dean for the past two years and it’s been the pleasure of my life. It’s been a good experience and I’ve learned a lot. He’s a good man to work for and a good man to work with.”
The majority of the county commissioners were in attendance and County Clerk Ricky Lyons spoke for all of them. He had a two-page wish list of priority items on behalf of the small county coalition that he gave to Dean and Beshears. Those items included a request to protect funding for important grant programs and revenue sharing for road projects, state aid for libraries, transportation projects, housing, rural healthcare and others.
Newly elected Lafayette County Superintendent of Schools Robby Edwards addressed Dean and Beshears next on issues facing public schools, including digital learning and teacher evaluations.
“A lot of stuff is coming down very quick for us,” he said. “One of the things we’re asking is if you guys would please consider how quickly everything’s coming down and we’re not against any of this stuff happening. We’re for most of it, but we’re having a hard time getting out in front of this thing and planning for it and making it work effectively.”
Dean suggested that Edwards get in touch with Senator Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, who is a former superintendent.
“He’s a good man and he’ll steer you straight and help you,” said Dean.
He also advised Edwards to join up with the small county coalition of superintendents.
“That’s very, very important,” said Dean.
Lafayette County Property Appraiser Tim Walker asked Dean to ease up on property tax amendments.
“They’re a mess to implement,” said Walker.
Local pastor Geary Rowell addressed the issue of Sharia Law, or Islamic Law and asked that Dean try to ensure that Florida courts only abide by Florida laws and U.S. Constitutional laws when making determinations in cases. Dean said he concurred and would have a conversation with the president about it.
Rowell also asked that Dean oppose insurance exchanges with regard to “Obamacare” and that they would become a major expense for the state of Florida.
The last citizen to speak was Kathy Wallmeyer who also spoke about the insurance exchange, stating she thought Florida missed the deadline and will be utilizing the exchanges.
Then, she, too, complained about all the amendments that were on the general election ballot in November, saying it was too time-consuming and unacceptable. She also said the Florida voting process still has flaws and that many military personnel did not get their votes counted correctly.
Another issue on voting, she said, was unrealistic percentages of voters from some counties.
“How can you have 140 percent of registered voters?” she asked. “We’re supposed to be a nation where our votes are supposed to count. This is wrong. There are some counties that didn’t have one vote for Governor Romney.”
She said it was hard to believe that a county of thousands of people would not have at least one vote for Romney over Obama.
Wallmeyer became emotional and said she was angry that our state government did not correct the mistakes that happened in 2010 during the voting process.
The last thing she brought up was gun control and wanted to know Dean’s stance on the issue.
Dean replied, “As a former sheriff, I support citizens having the right to have guns. I think what we have gotten into is the fact we spend more time arguing about a piece of metal with a barrel on it called a gun, instead of the psychopathic attitude of the person who owns the gun.”
Dean said he shed a lot tears after the Connecticut elementary school shooting because he has three little grandkids and that he couldn’t understand how any human being could do such a thing.
“How in the world anybody can shoot a child is beyond me,” said Dean.
He suggested that this country needs more help for people with mental illness and those who have out-of-control emotions.
“If it wasn’t a gun, it’d be a stick,” he said. “If it wasn’t a stick, it’d be a knife. If it wasn’t that, it’d be a car. There’s always something that is available if someone really loses that personal control, or that emotional control or that mental control.”
Dean said improvements need to be made, but denying citizens the right to have a gun is not the solution because then only the out of control people would have guns.
Florida statutes, Dean said, state that citizens can have guns, but they cannot open carry them.
“I don’t think we need to be packing .49’s on our hips and walking around, because if we have open carry, law enforcement is not going to know the good guys from the bad guys,” he said. “Our law enforcement officers would be put into a stress that they’re not even close to today.”