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DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson gives exclusive interview to 90.7 WMFE





Mayor likens himself to political outsider Donald Trump, says he’s being extorted by the city


The city of DeBary is suing its own mayor. The city wants Clint Johnson to turn over surveys and receipts relating to a state of the city address. Johnson has fired back, calling claims against him ridiculous and throwing out words such as terrorist and extortion.

The mayor called into 90.7 WMFE’s Intersection show on Friday, April 22, to address the lawsuit, and the allegations he’s not operating under the Sunshine laws.

Listen to the full exchange among Johnson, Peddie and guest Mike Lafferty, former Orlando Sentinel editorial writer, here:

Download the mp3 file (In some browsers, the file will open in a new window, and you can download by right clicking on the player and clicking “save video as.”)

Note: When referencing this interview in your news stories, please include “DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson said in an interview with 90.7 WMFE’s Intersection Host Matthew Peddie…”

Here is a transcript of some key quotes:


Mayor Johnson: Everybody likes this idea of the political outsider. They like somebody who will come in and buck the system or shake things up. That process isn’t easy. I’m a shining example of what it would look like to have a Donald Trump president, because this is what it takes to fight something that is so big, so established as a governmental system, so I’m proud of what I’m doing. I consider it a validation.


Matthew Peddie: At the same time you’re throwing away words like terrorist and extortion… I mean, are you proud of that?

Mayor Johnson: Sure, by definition, that’s exactly what it is, and I used those terms in the meeting; it’s no shock. When you’re holding a lawsuit over somebody’s head and demanding records that he doesn’t have and saying, ‘well if you don’t produce records that you don’t have we’re gonna sue you,’ and that to me, it’s extortion. It’s ridiculous.


Matthew Peddie: At the same time Mayor Johnson, you’re representing the city and you should have a good grasp on what counts as public record and what counts as you doing things as a private citizen. It seems that maybe you don’t quite understand that.

Mayor Johnson: No, I mean, of course, I understand it. What was asked for was so much more broad than was appropriate. They wanted every single thing I’ve liked on Facebook for a year and a half. At $500 a month, as a part-time mayor, with zero authority, individual authority, I’m not spending two out of four weeks of a month going through Facebook and making copies of something for a ridiculous inappropriate personal request.


Mayor Johnson: I really don’t get any text messages about city business. If I do, they’re transitory in nature strictly. People have this idea that I’m texting fellow city council members when if you just watch five minutes of the meeting you’d know there’s zero communication going on there.


Mayor Johnson: You’ve got this impression that these council members are going to go behind closed doors and they’re going to drink a bunch of beer or something and then they’re going to come up with all these solutions and then when they go to the meeting, they’ll just rubberstamp everything. But that’s what’s already happening through the city management. You haven’t fixed the problem.


Matthew Peddie: Will you step down?

Mayor Johnson: What would be best for the city?… For it to go back to business as usual and have the same clique of people running everything? Because that’s what’s happening. You’ve got about 15 people in the city that are running everything.

I think this is a time of growth for our city… every city that has gone from a small town has gone through this period of transition. This might be a little more tumultuous because of my age, but I think DeBary deserves better leadership, people that listen. I’m not gonna quit on the residents. Elected by 56 percent of votes. This city wanted change, and this is what change looks like.


90.7 WMFE is a non-profit, member-supported, community-based public broadcasting company that operates 90.7 WMFE-FM, metro Orlando’s primary provider of 
NPR programming; and 90.7-2 Classical. Part of the community since 1980, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. Visit wmfe.org to learn more.

About Intersection:
Intersection is 90.7 WMFE’s semiweekly news and in-depth conversation program. We talk with political leaders, environmental experts, historians, writers, musicians, and other news makers from around Central Florida. Intersection is where they all come together. Listen Tuesdays & Fridays at 9 a.m. Intersection is supported in part by Florida Hospital. Visit
wmfe.org/programs/intersection to learn more.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jenny Babcock at 407-273-2300 ext. 112 or email at jbabcock@wmfe.org.

DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson/Photo: City of DeBary

DeBary Mayor Clint Johnson/Photo: City of DeBary

DeBary City Council votes to sue Mayor Clint Johnson over public records request. Photo: Catherine Welch

DeBary City Council votes to sue Mayor Clint Johnson over public records request. Photo: Catherine Welch