ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — St. Johns County commissioner Krista Joseph, who Action News Jax told you was censured last night for her comments against the county’s growth other board members called a political speech, is speaking to us about the censure.
By definition, a censure is a formal disapproval of an elected official’s behavior. The 4-1 vote to censure Joseph came after she spoke against heavy traffic, tree clearing, and rapid construction of housing, among other developments St. Johns County is still seeing during the November 21st board of county commissioner meeting.
Joseph urged people to vote in the upcoming August election, mentioning three of her other board members, Christian Whitehurst, Roy Alaimo, and Henry Dean, are up for reelection. This caused other board members to call a point of order at the time, leading to her censure last night.
Despite the vote, Joseph is sticking with what she said.
“I threaten these people because I listen to my constituents and I’m trying to slow down growth,” Joseph says.
St. Johns County’s online development tracker says there are 452 developments proposed or underway in the county. At least 101 are related to new or existing housing developments. Commissioner Joseph claims her stance against what she considers uncontrolled growth led to her censure.
“This is how [the other commissioners] want to go after me now,” says Joseph, “they don’t want me to have a voice.”
Concerns about the county’s growth are directed at board members, even leading to more flyers from organizations like Fight for St. Johns County, which Action News Jax got this morning. The flyer targets three commissioners by name, (Roy Alaimo, Sarah Arnold, Christian Whitehurst) two of which (Roy Alaimo, Christian Whitehurst) are up for reelection next year.
“If me bringing the motion to censure commissioner Joseph leads to my defeat in August, so be it,” says county commissioner Henry Dean, who filed the censure motion and is also up for reelection next year.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Dean says the motion wasn’t influenced by Joseph’s stance on development, but whether she broke state law in her remarks. Florida statute 104.31 prohibits county officials from using their position to influence votes, which Dean believes Joseph did.
“I felt compelled under the circumstances that I had a duty to do what I did,” Dean says.
The county is now hiring a counsel to review whether Joseph’s comments were illegal. But Joseph tells Action News Jax she’s unbothered.
“I’m not giving up and I don’t think they can get rid of me, either,” Joseph says.