FORT LAUDERDALE _ A group of clergy and community leaders held a news conference on Tuesday, Nov. 17 to criticize Gov. Charlie Crist for failing to make a timely appointment to fill the seat left open by suspended Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion.
“We are asking the governor to immediately appoint someone to fill this seat,” said the Rev. Allen B. Jackson, who organized the press conference. “It doesn’t matter if he appoints a Republican, a Democrat, a man, a woman, or a black or a white. At this point, we just want to be represented.”
The position has been vacant since Sept. 23. That’s when Crist suspended Eggelletion following his arrest on federal fraud and money-laundering charges. District 9, the county’s only majority-black district, has been without a commissioner ever since.
The governor’s office did not immediately return calls or respond to emails sent about the delayed appointment, or about the concerns raised by civic leaders.
The governor’s Office has conducted several rounds of interviews, but no selection to fill the District 9 seat has been made. Community leaders say they have not been advised on the process, and are not being informed of the status of any appointment.
Flanked by about a half-dozen supporters outside the Broward County Governmental Center, Jackson read statements, acknowledging support from Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Barrington Russell and other local elected officials.
Standing with Jackson on Tuesday were former Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Carlton B. Moore, who ran against Eggelletion in 2000, and former Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Tim Smith.
“There is no reason that this seat should not be filled at this time. This governor is failing us,” Moore said. “We understand the necessity of filling a vacant seat. Obviously, our governor does not.”
In a statement released on Sunday, Nov. 15, the group said, “We see no valid reasons for this delay, and seek a full explanation why the people of District 9 have endured no representation on the County Commission for more than a month.’’
Jackson, senior pastor at Living Word Community Church in Lauderhill, introduced the issue at the news conference. Jackson’s church is in the district, and he twice ran unsuccessfully for Eggelletion’s seat.
Jackson is also an applicant for the appointment to fill the vacant seat.
“Look, I was not even given an interview, so I know I won’t be getting any appointment. If that was what I was after, I certainly wouldn’t be calling the governor on the carpet at a press conference,” Jackson said when asked if the move was intended to improve his chances of getting the appointment.
“There have been several county commission meetings, and the District 9 seat is always empty,’’ Jackson continued. “It’s not about me. This is about the people of this district who deserve, and have a right to representation.”
Since Sept. 23, there have been six county commission meetings, and commissioners have discussed and/or voted on numerous issues, including workshops on the expansion of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
As the news conference proceeded on Tuesday, county commissioners met again inside their chambers. The District 9 seat was again conspicuously empty.
Pictured above: Carlton Moore, positioned at the microphone, joins Allen Jackson, far right, and other community leaders at the Broward County Governmental Center in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday.