Pensacola city councilwoman Sherri Myers is calling comments by fellow council member Larry B. Johnson “demeaning and sexist” after Johnson’s unusual nomination of Myers to serve as the council’s next president.
Myers is one of three council members who have been nominated for the position. The council will meet later this month to choose which of them will serve as the next council president and chair the council’s meetings for the next year.
“Councilwoman Myers has consistently dominated council meetings by speaking as frequently and as long as possible, often in violation of the council’s rules,” Johnson wrote when nominating Myers. “Her comments often stray from the agenda into topics which go nowhere and serve no apparent purpose. Councilwoman Myers routinely speaks as much as, if not more than, the council president, and certainly more than all other council members combined.”
Despite the seemingly sarcastic tone of the language, Johnson on Tuesday insisted the nomination was serious.
“In fact, this behavior has only gotten worse over the past six years, and unfortunately, no council president has been able to effectively manage her,” Johnson continued. “Monopolizing our discussions in this way has made Councilwoman Myers the unofficial leader of this council, so I think we should just go ahead and make it official. It is my hope that this nomination sends a message, and that if elected as the council’s president or vice president, Councilwoman Myers will choose to be more respectful of her fellow council members’ time as well as the public’s time.”
Myers isn’t amused.
“Larry Johnson has treated me with disrespect for the seven years that I have served on city council,” she said Tuesday. “I view his characterizations of me as sexist and demeaning. I view his use of the city council nomination process to make disparaging remarks about me as an abuse of his office. However, it is consist with his conduct toward me and the public for whom he has often showed hostility.”
Myers said she won’t accept the nomination and intends to support Councilman Gerald Wingate, whom she nominated, for council president.
“Mr. Wingate, contray to Mr. Johnson, has all of the qualities a president of the council should have,” Myers said. “He is considerate of all views, he is respectful toward the public, he is fair toward everyone he encounters, and he is a hard worker.”
While the city charter calls for presidents to be elected annually, Myers has previously supported a charter amendment which would instead rotate the seat by district, as the Escambia County Commission does.
“If the president and vice president positions rotated based on districts, rather than personality and politics, Mr. Johnson would not be able to act like a clown and use the process to futher his own political agenda,” Myers said.
Johnson and Myers have clashed repeatedly in recent years. Myers is a frequent critic of Mayor Ashton Hayward while Johnson is typically viewed as an ally of the mayor.
Asked about Myers’ characterization of his comments, Johnson said Tuesday that he “would rather not get into a back-and-forth” with Myers.
“My nomination form speaks for itself,” Johnson said. “I stand by it 100 percent. I just want to do good work for the city. I want the next year to be productive. I want us to get along with the mayor’s office.”
In addition to Myers and Wingate, Councilman Andy Terhaar — who served as the city council president in 2015 — nominated himself for the position.
Editor’s note: The Azalea Cocktail Lounge — which is owned by Johnson — is an advertiser on The Pulse.