Rivest, Hawkins, Deboles-Johnson, Revell Talk County District 5 Campaign


December 20, 2021

Following news that Kristin Dozier is leaving the Leon County Commission and mulling a race for Mayor, four candidates jump in the ring for Leon County’s most progressive County Commission District. 

Learn more about them, why they’re running, and what they think of the $27 million dollar Seminole Boosters’ Deal.

We asked all filed candidates for Leon County Commission the following questions for Leon County Commission. Their responses are included below without modification for typos/grammar. On the maps below, yellow regions are precincts within City limits, and dark blue areas are precincts in the unincorporated County regions.


Lives in: Buck Lake/Chaires

Website | Facebook | Campaign Contributors

OT: Tell us about a little bit about yourself so people have an idea of your background.

DUSTIN RIVEST: For 30+ years, I have called District 5 in Leon County my home. A product of the Leon County School system, I attended Chaires Elementary and Swift Creek Middle School before graduating from Lincoln High School with Honors and served as the Student Body President. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida International University, I returned to Tallahassee to start my entrepreneurial career. I am currently the Founder & CEO of four local businesses with a combined total of 17 employees. I live in the Buck Lake / Chaires community with my beautiful wife and 4-year-old daughter.

OT: Why are you running?

DUSTIN RIVEST: Simple, I want my daughter to want to come back to Tallahassee after college one day, just as I did to this great community. I believe our community has the right assets to become a vibrant location to live, work, and enjoy Leon County’s amenities. In addition, I want to bring my problem-solving skills to the table that are uniquely different because of my work experience. I look forward to working diligently so the Tallahassee-Leon County area blossoms to its full potential in the coming years.

OT: What are the most important issues to you?

DUSTIN RIVEST: We must strive to protect our environment while bolstering our business community to fill the current vacancies businesses have while promoting new innovative small business development. The only natural way to lift people out of poverty is with jobs. Focusing on training more people for the trades and leveraging new technologies to create new job opportunities is where I see Tallahassee and Leon County prospering in the future.

OT: What do you think of the current course of Blueprint, and what changes, if any would you support in the administration of the 1% sales tax?

DUSTIN RIVEST: As with any new project or role, it would be unwise to make a hasty decision on the overall direction without all the underlying facts. The funding is coming from a source that was decided on by the voters with a particular use case that, to date from a birds-eye view, seems to have been done so correctly using the money for the intended use.


Lives in: Woodrun East

Website  | Campaign Contributors

OT: Tell us a little bit about yourself so people have an idea of your background.

DAVID HAWKINS: I am 60 Years young and have lived in Leon County for over 50 Years, I grew up here and I consider Leon County my home.  I am the 5th of 6 Kids, my parents were married for over 50 Years before Cancer took my Mom back in December of 2009.  I grew up around Cars and am one of the biggest Car Guys you will ever meet, owning around 200 Cars since High School with most being Mustangs.  I have been working for the State for over 30 Years and have learned a lot about how things are done so, I guess you can say I have been surrounded by Government for a long time.  I ran for County Commission back in 2016 and did a lot better than I expected for being unknown and going against Commissioner Lindley so, I reregistered a week later.  I had also started the process for a 501(c)3 Nonprofit at that time which came trough faster than I expected so I pushed my Run from 2020 to 2022 so I could spend time on getting the nonprofit going but then Covid hit and put everything on hold.  As my friends will tell you, I have always been an “Outside Of The Box” thinker and hope I always will be.  Over the last 25 Years I have been trying to keep up with what has been going on in Leon County and Tallahassee and talking about running for Office, Friends and Family telling me I should because they liked my Ideas and they are still encouraging me so, here I am, trying again.  I have a very extended platform on my Web Site where I include my solutions to the problems.

OT: Why are you running?

DAVID HAWKINS: I want to help move Leon County in a positive direction while bringing Communities together.

What are the most important issues to you?

DAVID HAWKINS: The top three things I want to work on is:  01) Reeling in Wasteful Spending.  02)  Help lower the Crime Rate.  03) Help improve the Economy. 

OT: What do you think of the current course of Blueprint, and what changes, if any would you support in the administration of the 1% sales tax?

DAVID HAWKINS: I would work on how the Blueprint Money is spent.  We need to do more on Infrastructure, Roads, Turn Lanes, Traffic Lights, Sidewalks, Flooding, etc.

OT: Would you support the $27 million dollar proposed Seminole Boosters deal? 


OT: As you go about campaigning for this office, what restrictions (if any) will you be using for what type of money you will be accepting from potential campaign donors? 

DAVID HAWKINS: I am against PAC’s and Bundling of Money as well as accepting Money from Lobbyists, Developers and any Person or business that does business with Local Governments. Knowing I was going to be running for Office I have been saving up and I now have $10,000 in my campaign account with 100% coming from me alone and I will soon be adding a little more.  I have not asked for any contributions from anyone because I feel that what I have now and will soon be adding, should be enough to run for a local Office and, because of that, the only favors I will owe will be to the great Citizens of Leon County because they will be the ones I will be working for.


Lives in Indianhead-Lehigh Neighborhood

Website | Facebook | Campaign Contributors

About Paula: Paula DeBoles-Johnson, is a graduate of Florida A & M University. She and her husband of nearly thirty years, Cpt. David L. Johnson (Retired) have two extraordinary adult daughters, Zemoria and Zenani. Currently, Paula serves in dual capacities as the Employee Engagement and Performance Manager with Leon County Government and Executive Director of the Capital City Youth Development Corporation – a nonprofit she founded in 2003. She has extensive experience in nonprofits, program management, community development, contracting, grants management and training. She has spent most of her career working in nonprofits organizations as well as state and local governments. Her passion for improving the lives of Leon County citizens has been clearly demonstrated through her work with a myriad of organizations, to include the Tallahassee-Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, Timothy Training and Development Center, Girl Scouts of Gateway Council and the Tallahassee Human Relations Council. 

OT: Why are you running?

PAULA DEBOLES-JOHNSON: I am running for two reasons. The first reason is for real change, especially as it relates to economic development in Leon County. Since the late eighties, I have lived, worked, raised children and volunteered thousands of hours within this community and there are still areas of our county that have literally had little to no economic advancement. People feel locked out of the chance to create or grow their businesses and provide for their families.  Our residents are suffering due to lack of affordable housing, low wages and limited access to training that will prepare them for future opportunities.  

Secondly, I believe that my work and experiences with our community and in county government make me the ideal candidate for this office.  Many people are hoping that we can. ‘get things back to the way they were pre-pandemic,’ but old ways don’t open new doors. That kind of thinking will never get us to a point where we can provide pathways for affordable housing, good paying jobs, opportunities for entrepreneurship, enhanced social service opportunities, especially as it relates to mental health and making sure that our environment is protected. We need new voices, officials that are interested in a viable path forward that works for all community members. I have been here, working, building, collaborating, advocating, raising funds; whatever was necessary to move this community forward. My hope is that the people of District 5 are just as ready for a new voice and different perspective as I am. 

OT: What are the most important issues to you?

PAULA DEBOLES-JOHNSON: There are a lot of concerns that I would like to address if elected. Initially, I would like to tackle the following: 

  • Reducing crime, especially as it relates to gun violence. Violent crimes are on the rise in Tallahassee, and gun violence is particularly pervasive. As a former member of both the TPD Citizens Police Academy, the Tallahassee Human Relations Council, and current member of the TPD Citizens Advisory Committee, I have often heard residents share their fear and frustrations concerning this complex issue. While both our Sheriff’s Office and Police Department do a fine job of working together to find solutions, there is still lots of work to be done. This will take all of us, especially those of us who are most significantly impacted. This is a very complex issue that will require a myriad of different approaches and partners including the school board, city/county funding and partnerships, more jobs, juvenile justice, the courts and our community members at the table helping to assist in finding creative solutions. 
  • Economic opportunity and helping small businesses would be next on my list of priorities. We have all witnessed the effect of the pandemic on our small businesses. While I am extremely proud of the hard work of the County in getting financial support to our local businesses, many owners closed their doors for good. There were also many businesses that were not able to access funding for various reasons. Now is a great time to educate and train the next generation of entrepreneurs. We can expand current partnerships and use federal funds to prove education, grants and microloans, mentorship, so that the foundation of these small businesses are strong and able to withstand the unexpected.  
  • Living wages would definitely be a priority. Combatting this issue would also impact food insecurity, address homelessness, affordable housing, reduce the need for many other social services, and allow more access to physical and mental health options. People want to work. However, we must offer opportunities that provide decent pay, long-term sustainable, employment, and good benefits. 
  • Protecting our environment for our future generations, and ensuring the overall environmental health of our community is safe is also very important. 
  • Many of our community members do not fully understand how critical tech and broadband expansion is, especially for minority communities. Many of our students in Title 1 Schools still have limited access to the latest technology and lack access to affordable internet service. Those that do oftentimes have limited or slow access. Even with great partners that provide discounted services, many parents can’t afford these services. The digital divide is widening for many families. If we don’t improve access and infrastructure now, many of our Leon County residents will continue to be left behind. 

I look forward to the continued discussions from our community about these and other issues that they have raised. I will always make myself available to listen and learn from our residents. This is how we make our county one that we can all be proud of.  

(Editors Note: Paula reached out to us and explained that at this point she is unable to offer an option on several of our questions, due to being a current Leon County employee and those questions applying to pending decisions before the Leon County Commission) 

OT: As you go about campaigning for this office, what restrictions (if any) will you be using for what type of money you will be accepting from potential campaign donors? 

PAULA DEBOLES-JOHNSON: Our goal is to run a grassroots campaign, funded by those who know of my record and my family’s record of innovation, hard work, integrity, and inclusion. Over the years many people have shared that they hoped that I would run for office and that I would be a great candidate for this seat. My hope is that their support will manifest financially. 


Lives in:  Woodland Drives

Website | Facebook | Campaign Contributors

OT: Tell us a little bit about yourself so people have an idea of your background: 

JAY REVELL:I’m excited to be running for the District 5 seat on the Leon County Commission. I love our community and I am proud to have spent my career working to make Tallahassee a better place. I’ve had the great pleasure to live in the heart of District 5 for nearly a decade. My wife, Sarah, and I are raising our children, Winnie(4) and John David(4 months) in Woodland Drives and our love for the neighborhood has helped shape my understanding of the importance of every neighborhood in our community. I know families can thrive here if we can get local government on the right track. I’m committed to being the voice of all our neighbors on the Leon County Commission and can’t wait to hear from folks across our community during the campaign.

OT: Why are you running?

JAY REVELL: People become frustrated when local government struggles to solve our persistent problems, especially when they are related to the significant growth of our community. We need leaders who listen, engage, and help shape outcomes that benefit us all and that’s why I’m running for the Leon County Commission. My top priority is to make sure you can continue to enjoy a high quality, safe, and thriving place to live.

OT: What are the most important issues to you?

JAY REVELL: I want to help guide our community through the growing pains Leon County is currently experiencing. We all enjoy the benefits of growth in our community, but it shouldn’t come as a trade off with our quality of life. The problem is that as development continues to increase across Leon County, our local government is struggling to solve persistent issues like crime, homelessness, economic disparities, and even the compatibility between commercial and residential areas.

The time to shape the future we want is now. We can’t kick the can down the road any longer, which is why we need a community driven plan to address our biggest challenges.

Here’s How We Do It:

First, we have to make sure that we never stop investing in our quality of life. The roads, parks, and other infrastructure we rely on must continue to get the attention they deserve.

Second, our public safety must be a top priority in every decision we make. No matter what neighborhood you call home, you deserve to feel safe.

Finally, we must continue to invest in creating a thriving economy so that everyone who wants to build a life in Tallahassee can find a good job.

Let’s make a plan for our future that benefits everyone.

OT: What do you think of the current course of Blueprint, and what changes, if any would you support in the administration of the 1% sales tax?

JAY REVELL: The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency has brought a staggeringly high level of investment to District 5 in the last two decades. That list includes Cascades Park, the Cascades Pedestrian Bridge, Capital Circle SE, Mahan Drive, Franklin Boulevard, the Lafayette Heritage Trail Canopy Walkway, the St Marks Headwater Greenway, and the Lake Lafayette Floodplain purchase. From critical infrastructure to quality of life improvements and environmental protection, the only way to describe these projects in transformational.

In the coming years, Blueprint is scheduled to continue an impressive list of improvements to District 5. The recent extension of the 1% sales tax will fund projects such as the Magnolia Drive Trail, Blair Stone Bike Route, Lafayette/St. Marks Linear Park, and
Midtown Placemaking. Between the millions spent on completed projects and those scheduled for the years ahead, Blueprint has made District 5 one of the most desirable places to live in Leon County. I’m committed to making sure that you and our neighbors continue to benefit from these Blueprint investments while also weighing how to best implement other priorities county wide.

OT: Would you support the $27 million dollar proposed Seminole Boosters deal? 

JAY REVELL: There have been a long series of votes on this issue over the past few years. If given the opportunity I would have voted no to using Blueprint’s economic development dollars on collegiate athletic facilities. I think our local governments should have looked at different funding mechanisms to help our partners at FSU, FAMU, and TCC in their time of need. Stadiums weren’t what our residents had in mind for these dollars. However, if I was a Commissioner asked to vote on the final bond package of over $120 million in projects and it still included the stadium dollars I would vote yes due to the benefit to District 5 residents and all County residents from advancing the combined package of projects being voted on. There’s just too much to gain by moving that package forward at this time.

OT: As you go about campaigning for this office, what restrictions (if any) will you be using for what type of money you will be accepting from potential campaign donors?

Jay Revell: Our campaign welcomes any donations that fall within the State of Florida’s laws that govern contributions. Everyone has a right to financially support candidates of their choice within the law. I’m excited by the enthusiasm our campaign has already generated and am looking forward to building more support on the trail in 2022!

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