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Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas Now Leads The Florida Association Of Counties

Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas is now President of the Florida Association of Counties. The group advocates for local control.
Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas is now President of the Florida Association of Counties. The group advocates for local control.

Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas is the newly elected president of the Florida Association of Counties. Thomas says he plans to use his new role to educate lawmakers about why home rule is essential.

Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas is the newly elected president of the Florida Association of Counties. Thomas says he plans to use his new role to educate lawmakers about why home rule is essential.

Thomas says he's spent years walking the halls of the capitol and meeting with lawmakers. He says this experience has shown him that lawmakers can change their minds when they learn more about the benefits of home rule.

"They all want to do a good job. There's no doubt about that, but they don't always have the full picture," Thomas says.

Home rule is the perspective that local governments have the best idea of what rules and regulations are needed in their communities. But sometimes local communities pass rules lawmakers don't like, so they draft legislation preempting all cities or counties from passing similar rules. Instead, they say the state will make the rules for that particular topic. But Thomas says blanket policies don't always fit every community's needs.

"We feel that we are better suited for knowing how these decisions are going to affect our local community, and so there are things that a bill that passes in Tallahassee, that I may support wholeheartedly, and another county may not—may have a completely different impact," Thomas says.

Thomas says he's able to reach across the aisle and put politics aside to get things done. He plans to use that strength when communicating with lawmakers.

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