Jayer Williamson Seeks Open District 3 House Seat
When Congressman Jeff Miller announced his retirement earlier this year, it started a domino effect in local politics. One of those dominos is Jayer Williamson, a former Santa Rosa County Commissioner who left his seat to run for the Florida House in District 3.
Public service is a bit of a family business for Williamson. He was appointed to the Santa Rosa County Commission in 2014 to fill out the term of his father, Jim, who passed away while in office. In fact, since he graduated from the University of West Florida, Jayer Williamson has been involved in more than one family business. He went to work for Williamson Electrical Company right out of school. "My dad put me out on a work crew. I started out as the third man on an electrical truck, worked my way up to be a helper, moved my way up to running my own crew and finally moved into the office where I'm president and owner today. I know what it's like to make a payroll at the end of the week. And I know what it's like to live my that motto that every penny counts because in business it does. It should count in government as well."
As far as that other family business. "I served two years as county commissioner [and I] had great experiences with the economic development committee, I was chairman of the transportation planning organization, which is the Florida-Alabama TPO. So I've dealt with FDOT, I've dealt with ALDOT, I've worked on five year plans, I've worked on the 2040 plan. And now I want to go to Tallahassee and bring some of that money back."
Williamson says because the district is mainly rural, getting that money for road improvements and construction is important. However he points out it’s not a rural as it used to be. "20 years ago you might say it was a rural part of the county. Now it's booming with population. But it does have some rural areas."
The plan was for Williamson to continue on as county commissioner until after the election. But a mix up with the dates on filing paper work forced him to resign from the commission in June or abandon the race for the state house. Speaking to WUWF News at the time, he took responsibility for the mix up. "It's not the plan that I had. I was looking forward to serving the last four months of my term. It just didn't work out that way. This was an oversight on my behalf and my consultant's behalf. But, when it comes down to it, I'm the candidate."
If he goes to the state house, Williamson knows that the panhandle can sometimes not be a big priority and any representative from this area has to work a bit harder for their district. He calls it a number game. "You have eight representatives in the House and the Senate between here and Tallahassee. You probably have eight in four blocks in Miami-Dade. So we're always going to be at a disadvantage. But what we need to do [is] send the people that are over there [in Tallahassee] for the right reasons [that] are going to work together. A tight knit group of people and I think we have a chance of having a wonderful delegation for the next couple of years."
So what are the the biggest issues facing District 3? Williamson says anyone who represents the panhandle has to pay close attention to the Triumph Gulf Coast money from the BP oil spill settlement. "We could use that money, that $300 million to...help with economic development in Northwest Florida. There has been talk about [diverting that money] into a different fund. We all know in Tallahassee when there's money to be had, people want to get their hands on it. That money needs to stay right with the eight counties that were affected by the BP oil spill."
He also says bringing jobs to the area is a priority. "In northwest Florida we compete against Alabama every day. We need to make sure that we remember that. Mickey Mouse in south central Florida doesn't compete with anyone. But right here in the panhandle we compete against Alabama...and Georgia for jobs. So we need to make sure that we do have some type of program in place, a closing fund or something where we can help bring somebody or entice them to come to Pensacola or to Milton or to Crestview instead of going to Brewton or to Mobile." Williamson also says transportation is important to the area. He says some of the older roads in rural parts of the county are in need of repair. He wants to see that the trust fund set aside for those project doesn't get raided for other priorities. "We have a transportation trust fund and we need to see that that money stays where it's supposed to go to and that's our roads."
And while he has not come up with any specific legislation to bring to the table yet, Williamson has some thoughts about committees he’d like to be a part of in the house. "Something in transportation or maybe tourism and economic development. Appropriations, but of course everyone wants to be on an appropriations committee and as somebody new going in that may not happen. But I certainly would work towards that."
And we will know soon if he will be doing that work. There is no Democratic candidate for the District 3 House seat, so the winner of the primary on August 30 will be going to Tallahassee.
Jayer Williamson is running again fellow Republican J. Huston Walters. Mr. Walters has not responded to numerous calls and e-mails requesting an interview.