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2013 In Review: Remembering Representative Clay Ford

Florida House of Representatives

State Rep. Clay Ford was remembered as a “friend, mentor and tender conscience to all who served with him.” Ford was 74 when he died in March after battling cancer.

Having served in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the 1970’s, Clay Ford was first elected in 2006 from Florida House District-2 and won a second term two years later. After the 2010 Census shifted him to District-3, he was elected in 2012 by garnering 74 percent of the vote in the Republican primary; he had no opponent in the general election. But, his illness had kept him from the start the 2013 legislative session.

During his campaign in 2008, Ford – who would chair the House Energy and Utilities Subcommittee -- was a supporter of alternative energy development in general, and dealing with carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in particular.

In 2010, when oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion began washing onto beaches in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties Ford – who the previous year had voted in favor of allowing the governor and Cabinet to grant drilling leases within three miles of Florida's shores -- had a 180-degree turnaround.

In 2012, Ford sponsored House Bill 695. Besides promoting public-private ventures, it also would have enabled oil companies to avoid waiting for the state to offer land leases on the open market. Ford said the measure did not authorize any drilling – and he reiterated his opposition to drilling offshore. The measure failed to make it to the House floor.

Before he went to Tallahassee, Ford was involved in local politics as a member of the Gulf Breeze City Council and Mayor Pro Tem. While he was serving on that panel, Ford became involved with the Florida League of Cities – and eventually rose to the presidency.

A special election was called to fill Ford’s unfinished term. Republican Mike Hill won in June, and had said he plans to run for a full term in 2014.

During the 2013 session, the Florida Legislature named the Minority Scholarship for accounting students the “Clay Ford Scholarship Program.”