Three Santa Rosa County commissioners were sworn in for four-year terms Tuesday morning. Incumbent Robert “Bob” Cole is beginning his fourth term, and two commissioners with the same last name, Williamson, are now serving on the board.
“Staff cannot recall another time when two sitting commissioners had the same last names,” Santa Rosa County Public Information Officer Joy Tsubooka said. Although they share a surname, District 1 Commissioner Jayer Williamson and District 4 Commissioner Rob Williamson are not related.
County Judge Robert Hilliard, a former District 1 commissioner, administered the commissioners’ Nov. 18 oath of office – five months after Gov. Rick Scott temporarily appointed Jayer Williamson to the seat which was previously held by his late father, Jim, who passed away in April. Jayer won the special election to replace his dad June 20 after no challengers qualified for the District 1 race.
Jayer is the third member of his family to represent District 1. His late maternal grandfather, W.L. Butler, was a commissioner in the 1970s, and his father represented the district until his death last April.
“I’ve wanted to be in public service since I was a child,” he said.
Jayer was named the 2010 Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce “Emerging Leader of the Year” and presently serves as president of the Navy League Santa Rosa Council. Additionally, he is a board member for Santa Rosa Kids’ House and Santa Rosa Young Professionals, which he founded. Jayer and his wife, Linsey, reside in Pace and have a son, Brooks, and a daughter, Rylin.
“It’s a new day for Santa Rosa County, and it’s a new board,” Jayer said, noting that commissioners shouldn’t always agree but should continue working together.
Newcomer Rob Williamson won the crowded race to fill the District 4 seat and represent the Greater Navarre Area.
“I would like to thank my family, supporters and the citizens of Santa Rosa County for the trust they have placed in me,” Williamson wrote in an email to Navarre Press. “Now that the campaign is behind us, I will now turn my focus to serving the citizens of District 4 and Santa Rosa County. It is with a grateful heart I begin this journey.”
According to the county website, Williamson grew up in the Seminole, Fla., and moved to the area in 2003 with his wife Amie. They have two children, a daughter, Annabelle, and son, Hilton. Rob owns Rob Williamson Landscaping and has served on the board of
the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Santa Rosa Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast Foundation and Veterans to VA.
Prior to winning the District 4 race, Rob held several appointments to county boards, including the Zoning Board, RESTORE Council and Value Adjustment Board.
“To staff, thank you for the hard work,” he said, following his installation.
District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole also recognized the staff.
“Our staff does all the heavy lifting,” he said, adding, “Sometimes makes us look good. Sometimes makes us look bad,” he said, noting they all work for the citizens.
Cole, who has represented District 2 since 2002, ranks second in seniority to District 3 Commissioner Don Salter, who has served since 2000 and was named chairman at the board’s Nov. 18 re-organization meeting. District 5 Commissioner Lane Lynchard was named vice chairman.
During his tenure, Cole has served on a multitude of committees, such as the
Bay Area Resource Council, Blackwater Housing Authority Committee, Local Emergency Food & Shelter Program and Santa Rosa County Fair Committee.
One of Cole’s major accomplishments has been the construction of the June Ates Arena at East Milton Park, adjacent to the county fairgrounds. Cole held his district’s recreation funds until enough reserves were built up to fund construction of the multipurpose equestrian facility.
Additionally, Cole is the board representative for the Pensacola Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Regional Transportation Authority and National Association of Counties.
He has owned and operated Bob Cole’s Import Automotive Professionals for about three decades.
Cole moved to the area following his service as a ground support technician at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton. He has been married to his wife, Sheila, for 42 years, and they have four children and 10 grandchildren.
As seen in the Nov. 20 issue of the Navarre Press. Subscribe online here.