George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

Tallahassee ⁠i⁠s on ⁠t⁠he verge of grea⁠t⁠ changes | Op⁠i⁠n⁠i⁠on

By: Dr. J. Robert McClure / 2019


January 21, 2019

By: Bob McClure

I have lived in this wonderful city for 46 of my 53 years, and I can honestly say I have never quite seen Tallahassee so on the verge of a renaissance.

Apart from the Seminole football team (I get it, you all are a soccer school now) there is a palpable sense of anticipation that, with new leadership and new direction, this community can begin to achieve great things unlike any other time in recent memory.

I, like so many of you, know Mayor John Dailey personally. I coached him on the basketball court at Maclay and have followed him over the years as he went from FSU Student Body President to the County Commission to his new role as our Mayor.

It has been many years since we have seen someone come into office as widely respected by individuals regardless of their political philosophy. We may not always agree on the strategy, but we do agree on the goals, and the need to work together to achieve them. For that reason alone, it is my opinion that our great city is in capable hands.

On that note, it is my sincere hope that Mayor Dailey, and all the newly installed city and county commissioners, will take a lead from the dean of the Big Bend delegation – Democratic Sen. Bill Montford – as they learn to navigate what has been at times a contentious relationship with our state lawmakers (and a Republican majority).

Over his many years of public service, few have garnered the level of respect, acclaim and influence as Montford – and from members of both parties. The Montford mantra – that you’ll attract more bees with honey – has meant lots to this area. More often than we would care to admit, Montford has been the lone voice of reason in the relationship between the capital city and the Legislature.

Tallahassee has long had the reputation of being a city dependent upon state government and the universities as its sole source of economic development. Over the years, many have sought to change the perception and the reality.

It is no secret that we are a center-left capital city in the middle of a center-right state. That inevitably creates tension, but it’s also been stoked by an “us versus them” mentality when it comes to the Legislature. That needs to change. Tallahassee can benefit greatly from a collaborative relationship, not just with our local representatives, but with leadership as well.

I close this column with a quote from another good friend, Arthur Brooks. I encourage Dailey and his colleagues in the city and Leon County to heed these words from the CEO of the American Enterprise Institute:

“First, we should concentrate each day on the happiness portfolio: faith, family, community, and earned success through work. Teach it to those around you, and fight against the barriers to these things. Second, resist the worldly formula of misery, which is to use people and love things. Instead, remember your core values and live by the true formula: Love people and use things. Third, celebrate the free enterprise system, which creates abundance for the most people — especially the poor.”

By heeding these words, both our beloved city and our state will thrive.

Bob McClure is president and CEO of the James Madison Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank based in Tallahassee, devoted to research and education on public policy issues.

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