LIVE OAK — Two of the five people eyeing the District 10 state representative seat shared their beliefs at Monday’s Suwannee County Voters League forum.
Chuck Brannan, a Republican from Baker County, and Lake City Democrat Ronald W. Williams II each took a few minutes at Live Oak City Hall to discuss what they hope to bring to the district, which includes Suwannee, Hamilton, Columbia and Baker counties as well as part of Alachua County.
Brannan faces Lake City businessman Marc Vann in the Aug. 28 primary election. Williams and non-party candidates Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Fred Martin will await the winner in the general election Nov. 6.
While he lives in Macclenny, Brannan has roots through the district. His father was born in Live Oak and his mother is from White Springs. He attended Lake City Community College.
“That gives me a footprint in this district,” he said. “It doesn’t make me better than anybody else, but it does give me roots in this district.”
A career in law enforcement have helped Brannan learn how to deal with people he said and helping on the chicken farm that his father owned have helped prepare him for a career in politics as well, he added.
“I told somebody the other day that I have shoveled more chicken manure than anybody I know and that ought to make me a pretty good politician,” he said laughing.
He summed up his campaign in six words.
“If you could boil Chuck down to three positions, he’s pro-gun, pro-life and anti-tax,” he said. “I believe we ought not have to apologize for wanting to keep what we earn and I think sometimes the government maybe ought to apologize for wanting to keep what they take and often times waste.”
Raised in Lake City, Williams knows a little bit about Live Oak and Suwannee County too.
“I think the last time I was here, back in 1987, I actually got knocked out on the football field out there,” he shared laughing with those in attendance Monday.
But after getting back up, Williams now wants to help residents of North Central Florida. The son of a Columbia County commissioner, Williams said he learned one valuable lesson.
“Leadership is everything and talk is cheap,” he said. “He’s a man of action. He doesn’t talk. He walks.”
A veteran of the Marine Corps, Williams and his wife Tara started a ministry together in Alabama before returning to North Florida. In addition to pastoring at New Beginnings Restoration Church in Lake City, they also own and operate a day care center.
As a Lake City native who moved away before returning home, Williams said change is necessary for the district.
“I believe that people want to see change,” he said adding that he spent more than 20 years away while serving in the Marines. “I didn’t like coming back and seeing my community the same.
“We need change here. We need jobs here.”
In order to make those changes and bring in the needed jobs, Williams said as a representative he would ask constituents to do hard things, starting with making sure they got educated in order to help lure businesses to the area.
“We’re the gateway,” he said. “Everybody has to come through here. But we want to people to stay and we want jobs to stay.”