Anticipating larger-than-capacity crowds at one or more of the stops on his day-long tour of Santa Rosa County, freshman Northwest Florida congressman Matt Gaetz is asking those planning to attend to bring identification.
Gaetz has scheduled a series of events in Pace and Milton on Thursday, including a “briefing luncheon” at Grover T’s BBQ and a town hall meeting at Oops Alley, both open to the public. He’s calling the tour an “Open Gaetz Day,” promising that it’s just the first of many to come.
Local activists — unhappy with Gaetz’s proposal to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency — have promised to show up in protest. Supporters of Gaetz also plan to attend in force, with supporter Geoff Ross of Navarre calling on “concealed carry permit holders” to attend and reminding them “don’t forget your ammo.”
“We understand not everyone agrees on every political issue, thus dissent, discord and protests are expected,” Gaetz’s office said in a news release Wednesday. “We believe dissent and protests are signs of a healthy democracy, but most of all we ask everyone attending to behave in a non-violent and non-disruptive manner.”
“Seating will be very limited, especially at the Grover T’s BBQ Briefing Luncheon,” the release added. “To ensure District 1 residents receive priority, we ask attendees to have their IDs within their possession.”
The room being used for the event at Grover T’s BBQ has a capacity of just 80 people, said Gaetz spokesman Kavontae Smalls.
“We will have some staff members at the door checking IDs for residents particularly for the Grover T’s luncheon,” Smalls said. “If we have space after District 1 residents have been seated, it will be open to non-district residents from outside the region.”
Gaetz’s briefing luncheon will begin at noon at Grover T’s BBQ, located at 5887 Highway 90 in Milton. Lunch will be provided. At 7:00 p.m., Gaetz will end the day with a town hall meeting at Oops Alley, located at 3721 Highway 90 in Pace.
Other events scheduled for “Open Gaetz Day” include a 7:00 a.m. appearance at the Kiwanis Clubs of Milton & Pace, and 8:00 a.m. “radio town hall” on WEBY 1330 AM, where the public is invited to call in. At 9:00 a.m., Gaetz will attend the meeting of the Santa Rosa County Commission to update commissioners on his efforts in Congress.
Other closed-door events include a 10:00 a.m. visit to Avalon Middle School, a 2:00 p.m. visit to an area healthcare facility, and a 3:00 p.m. small business roundtable. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., Gaetz will meet with constituents during “mobile office hours” at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Complex in Milton.