Leon County officials take oath of office Tuesday

Published: Jan. 3, 2017 at 11:32 AM EST
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By: Mariel Carbone

January 3, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Leon County held its Constitutional Officers Swearing in Ceremony, Tuesday morning.

In a morning ceremony, four new officials were sworn in, including Andy Thomas as Public Defender, 2nd Judicial Circuit; Akin Akinyemi as Property Appraiser; Gwen Marshall as Clerk Circuit Court and Comptroller; and Mark Earley as Supervisor of Elections.

Each outlined some of their main goals upon starting.

“My main priority is to maintain the level of quality of services that we have established. That is my number one priority,” said Akin Akinyemi, who took office as Property Appraiser. “My next two initiatives are the outreach. We want to make sure everybody knows what we’re doing. They know all of their opportunities to minimize their tax expulsion. And finally… I’m going to assemble a team of students and staff to research the best practices throughout the country and bring it to us for implementation.”

The Democrat beat out non-party affiliated Greg Lane for the position.

Democrat Gwen Marshall beat NPA Franklin Ayetin for the title of Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller. Marshall said she is the first woman, as well as the first African-American to hold the title.

“We have a lot of barriers, but Tallahassee is very progressive. And we have demonstrated today that women can make it and I’m looking forward to being one of the firsts,” said Marshall.

Her main goal moving forward is public awareness.

“Unfortunately the Clerk's Office touches the lives of all of our citizens and they don't even know it. And just making the public aware of some of the services we provide,” said Marshall.

Mark Earley will take over as Supervisor of Elections after Ion Sancho, who held the title for nearly three decades, retired. Earley beat out Alan Williams, and wants to work to expand voting rights.

“Just defending the rights of people to vote. I’d like to be an advocate for restoring felons’ rights. I know that’s somewhat of a contentious subject, but that’s something I want to work hard to do,” said Earley.

He also plans to continue strong customer services and increase transparency.

The final leader sworn in Tuesday morning was Andy Thomas, as Public Defender. Thomas will succeed Nancy Daniels. Thomas plans to increase resources available to the community, but also the office.

“I want more resources to deal with children on the front end. When we have juveniles come in on the system, my juvenile lawyers… they’re handling probably four times the case load they should be handling. If we want to cut crime and (increase) public safety, we need to get those kids placed in the right placements, get them help, get them social services… I need more staff to do that,” he said.

In a separate afternoon ceremony, Walt McNeil was sworn in as Sheriff for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. McNeil beat NPA Mike Wood, who was appointed the job almost two years ago following the passing of longtime Sheriff Larry Campbell.

McNeil said his first steps in office are getting his staff to understand the vision he has, and how to achieve that vision.

"We have to be at the forefront of the criminal justice system and criminal justice reform and that's something we're going to do in Leon County, is lead from the front,” said McNeil. “And that means partnering with our social services in our community, partnering with our other law enforcement partners and driving down our crime problem."

A swearing in ceremony will be held Friday for elected State Attorney, Jack Campbell.