Gillum, Ziffer and Miller wrap up terms on city commission

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 14, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The make up of Tallahassee's city commission will soon change, as three new members are sworn in.

Meanwhile, three local leaders will hang up their hats.

Commissioners Nancy Miller and Gil Ziffer, and Mayor Andrew Gillum, participated in their final commission meeting Wednesday.

Gil Ziffer was first appointed as commissioner in 2009. He then was elected for his first full term in 2010 and won unopposed in 2014. After initially filing to run for mayor in 2018, Ziffer decided to leave public office.

"The first thing I was thinking was, 'Oh my,'" said Ziffer of his initial start in office. "When you're running for office you have all that time to prepare. And I was appointed and sworn in and an hour later they
gave me a stack of books this high because it was the beginning of September when we were doing budget."

During his time as commissioner, Ziffer helped flipped the old homeless shelter and launch the Kearney Center, a public private partnership that now serves as the area's emergency services center. He said his biggest focus has been on "human needs," work he calls problem solving.

"All the sudden as a commissioner you have an opportunity to help people deal with things they may not have the ability to normally do. And I enjoyed that more than anything else," he said.

He said he plans to continue to work in the community and wants to see the city continue working to assist with Independence Landing, a proposed living community for adults with disabilities.

Over the last eight years, the City of Tallahassee has changed drastically. Major projects include Cascades Park, FAMU Way and the redevelopment of Gaines Street.

"I firmly believe it doesn't have to be development or environment," said Commissioner Nancy Miller. "When I ran for office, what I was interested in was establishing a special sense of place in Tallahassee with a world class city, world class infrastructure, still protecting our water supply, still protecting our economy."

Miller is also a two term commissioner, taking office in 2010.

She has helped keep the city conscience of the environment, while putting a focus on the walkability and bikability of the community.

"People come here because of parks, because of our bike ways. We have a national reputation about the quality of our parks and bike trails. So I think that's the most gratifying," she said.

During their tenure, the commission has hired 50 additional police officers and changed its policing style to focus on community policing. The crime rate has dropped. And, the economy has grown. Infrastructure projects, like Franklin Boulevard, have been completed. And ongoing projects, like the Cascades housing development, were launched.

Both commissioners said they feel confident in handing off the baton.

"There's a real desire on the part of some people to tear government down, to tear the elections process down, to tear down confidence in government," said Ziffer. "But, the fact of the matter is, while there has been this FBI cloud, whatever you want to call it for the last two years, our city services continue to be outstanding."

"I feel like we're handing off, Commissioner Ziffer and I, and the Mayor, are handing off a government that's in really great condition. And a city that's in really great condition," said Miller.

Mayor Gillum is also ending his term in office. He was not available for an interview Wednesday.

The new commission will be sworn in on Monday.

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