Most commissioners mum, Matlow fundraising off of Campbell’s ‘evil men’ comments at Chamber conference

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Most city commissioners are staying out of the political fight between their colleague Commissioner Jeremy Matlow and Tallahassee’s top law enforcement official, who launched an early salvo in the 2022 local elections Sunday during the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference.

In response to State Attorney Jack Campbell’s assertion at the podium that Matlow needed to be “out of office,” and that no mind should be paid to the “pizza maker” or “12 trolls on Twitter” looking to influence criminal justice policy, the one-term commissioner took to fundraising for next year’s commission race.

“Okay Twitter trolls – we need at least 12 of you to help keep us around,” Matlow tweeted Sunday afternoon linking to a page accepting political donations. “If Commissioner Matlow brings our voice to City Hall, make a small, recurring donation now.”

During a discussion about public safety in Tallahassee at the annual conference in Amelia Island, Campbell lambasted Matlow’s continued criticism of the Chamber, which the commissioner says has turned a blind-eye to corruption.

Matlow has also decried law enforcement tactics in the capital city and called for reform within the ranks of the Tallahassee Police Department. In recent weeks he and the Chamber have traded barbs – he in a scathing column about why he wasn’t attending and the Chamber issuing a first-of-its-kind censure against him.

Matlow is running unopposed for his second term. During the conference, chamber officials said they will begin to “cultivate candidates,” just as the 2022 election cycle begins to ramp up.

As Campbell’s words spread through the capital city, Matlow quickly gained support from his closest colleague, City Commissioner Jack Porter, who said the comments “crossed the line.”

“(The comments) showed that some feel there is no room for differing opinions of compromise. That’s a shame, and I don’t think that’s how a vast majority of people want to see our community conversations go,” she tweeted Sunday.

“The priorities of the status quo have been rejected by the public of late so it’s only natural people deeply invested in it would be a little angry — but as community leaders we have an obligation to be better than that.”

In an interview with the Democrat, Campbell elaborated on his comments, saying that although Matlow is adept at criticism, he felt there was little in the way of solutions being proposed by the commissioner.

Matlow did not attend this year’s Chamber conference and has gone his own way on other similar trips, such as a 2019 trip to Greenville, South Carolina.

“I don’t like people sitting on the bench then having bad outcomes. We need people to come and get their hands dirty and get to to work,” Campbell said. “My frustration with him is I haven’t seen a proposal. I’ve seen a lot of criticism. My hope is that we step up, but we’re not going to do it when we just criticize those who are trying.”

Other commissioners reached Monday say they are focused on their role in the community, not getting into the middle of a dispute between politicians.

Mayor John Dailey, who was in the audience when Campbell spoke, said through his chief of staff that he was concerned at the moment with Tropical Storm Fred and declined to comment.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said she had no comment on Campbell’s comments.

“I can only control me,” she said. “I’m just trying to keep my head down and serve the people.”

Commissioner Curtis Richardson said since he wasn’t in attendance, he was in no position to offer commentary.

“Personally, in my almost 24 year of public office,” he said, “I’ve always conducted myself in a civil manner at that’s all I can speak to is how I’ve conducted myself while in office.”