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DeBary City Council Votes To Boot Its Mayor

Mayor Clint Johnson at the public hearing where the city council voted to remove him from office. Photo: Catherine Welch

The DeBary City Council voted to remove Mayor Clint Johnson from office. The vote came after a long and sometimes rowdy public hearing.

The meeting got rowdy after Johnson put unflattering tweets written by a resident up on a projection screen while the resident was delivering public comment.

After tempers cooled, and a more than five-hour meeting, the council found Johnson guilty of eight counts of charter violations and removed him from office.

Johnson said he feels bad for the citizens of DeBary.

“Their council has shown so little respect for their vote and the integrity of democracy that they’re going throw me out on eight frivolous charges with no grounds whatsoever,” said Johnson. “I couldn’t be more disappointed in the leadership of this city.”

The vice-mayor will serve as DeBary’s interim mayor, and the city charter calls for a special election within 45 days.

Just minutes after the vote, Johnson announced his candidacy to run again for mayor.

“Now would be a perfect time to announce my candidacy for the mayor of DeBary. I fully intend to run,” he said, “not for me but for the citizens who put me here to give them the opportunity to let their mayor finish their term.”

The council heard remarks from both Johnson’s attorney and the city’s attorney about whether Johnson violated DeBary’s charter by ordering staff around in texts, tweets and emails. In one example, Johnson tweeted that a city employee should be fired.

Johnson’s attorney claims the mayor was expressing an opinion, not giving orders. The city’s attorney said the mayor and city council have authority over city staff and therefor Johnson’s tweets should be considered orders and not opinions.

The city council had already voted to sue Johnson over unfilled public records requests. Documents Johnson insists that he has turned in.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been investigating whether the former city manager violated Sunshine Laws in emails about a controversial land deal.

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About Catherine Welch

Catherine Welch