Gov. Ron DeSantis has retracted more than 200 appointments, including two from Clay County, made by former Gov. Rick Scott since the Ponte Vedra Beach Republican was sworn in last month.
All five members on the St. Johns River State College Board of Trustees had their appointments pulled. Wendell Davis, a former county commissioner, college football coach and relator, said he was surprised when he saw his name on DeSantis’ list. Davis serves as the board’s vice-chair and joined the board in 2013.
“It didn’t have anything to do with who you were,” Davis said. “Apparently everybody that was appointed by Gov. Scott was pulled whether they had Senate confirmation or not. I’ve already done an application and I’ll be submitting it soon.”
Sam Garrison, an Orange Park-based lawyer and candidate for the House District 18 seat in 2020, serves as the board chair. He had his appointment rescinded, though he said he it was his intention to reapply.
“I was honored to be appointed by Gov. Scott and I’m a big supporter of Gov. DeSantis,” Garrison said. “I certainly understand his desire to make those appointments.”
Multiple news sources reported of a rift between DeSantis and Scott. The former governor made several last-minute appointments. Months later, DeSantis asked entire boards like the South Florida Water Management District to resign and rescinded multiple high-profile appointments to the Florida Commission on Ethics. DeSantis said in a press conference Tuesday that he was taking a “fresh look” at the appointments and everyone was welcome to apply again.
The Miami Herald reported new Florida governors have a history of retracting outgoing governors’ appointments. In 2011, Scott withdrew about 150 of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointments and Crist retracted more than 280 of Gov. Jeb Bush’s appointments four years prior.
St. Johns River State College President Joe Pickens sent an email to trustees about DeSantis’ announcement. Pickens wrote that appointments near the end of a governor’s term are usually handled by the incoming governor of the same party. “Scott chose to depart from that norm,” he wrote.
Pickens said the retraction of Davis’ appointment was the only surprise because his appointment was in the spring. Former Chair of the Republican Party of Florida and Clay County-based realtor Leslie Dougher, Bobby Krum and James Reid had their appointments rescinded also. Trustee Brian Keith was confirmed by the Senate and wasn’t rescinded.
“Our affected Trustees can continue to serve until the conclusion of the Legislative session on May 3, 2019. During that time period they can also be reappointed or replaced by the Governor. Accordingly, it is incumbent on the Governor to take action on our Trustees by the end of end of session,” Pickens wrote. “Ideally the Governor will take action on our Trustees prior to our next Board meeting on April 17, especially given upcoming budget considerations. Naturally, I will work toward that end.”