ARCADIA — Arcadia has a new mayor.
But Jaccarie Simons assuming that role wasn’t the big news on Tuesday.
And neither were proclamations, Robert Heine being named deputy mayor or a DeSoto commissioner’s plan to turn an abandoned livestock building into a mecca for underprivileged kids.
The attention-getter, instead, was an easy discussion that escalated into the threat of legal action over the words man versus member.
Lorenzo Dixon’s argument was simple: He wanted his nameplate on the city council bench where decisions are made to read Councilman, not Council Member. The demand was more about self-expression and independence, he said, arguing that should the city choose to fight the request, a lawsuit may be on the horizon.
City council in its last meeting had decided the term council member is now required, sealed it with a unanimous vote.
Dixon, in his counter-argument on Tuesday, even cited a Florida League of Cities manual in noting councilman/woman and council member are interchangeable … and allowable.
“I am an elected council man,” said Dixon, emphasizing the masculine noun. “And a member of my church. I am asking what is justly my due.”
Elected in November and sworn in on Tuesday by a retired Third Circuit judge expressly there for him, Dixon would bring intensity to the council, he and others reckoned. There was even speculation that he’d drive administrators out, turn City Hall on its head.
But in his remarks covering about 20 minutes, Dixon put those rumors to rest, praising City Administrator Terry Stewart and city Finance Director Beth Carsten.
But the nameplate issue wasn’t negotiable, he said, at one point cautioning City Attorney T.J. Wohl to expect his lawyer’s phone call. Things aren’t resolved to his liking into the new year, Dixon warned, “I’m coming in with fireworks.”
Arcadia pushed its next meeting into the new year, scheduling Jan. 2 starting at 6 p.m. City Marshal Matthew Anderson, councilperson Judy Wertz-Strickland and Keith Keene were also sworn in Tuesday. Jaccarie Simons replaced Wertz-Strickland as mayor in a unanimous vote, 5-0.