Boat Captain says Commissioner Smith was “Dishonest” when Removing Him from Advisory Role

Posted on June 19, 2023 by Romi White

Captain Pasco Gibson, former chairman of the Santa Rosa County Marine Advisory Committee, spoke out during this morning’s Santa Rosa County Commission meeting, stating he did not resign from the position and was surprised District 2 Commissioner Kerry Smith had removed him after more than 15 years on the unpaid, volunteer committee.

Gibson said he and his wife have been receiving questions from the community asking why he quit, so he wanted to make it clear that he was removed.

“I think he misled the board as well as the community,” Gibson said about District 2 Commissioner Kerry Smith, who took heat for replacing Gibson, a Republican, with Democrat Shana Alford.

Smith, back during the board’s May 25 regular meeting, had insinuated Gibson’s schedule was the reason he was making the replacement. During that meeting Smith praised Gibson. “Pasco’s done such a good job in the past. He’s an oysterman in the area, and I had the pleasure of serving on this particular board with Pasco; and he’s sitting as the chair right now, but his schedule gets very challenging to him.”

But Gibson says that’s not true and that since he became chairman he hasn’t missed any meetings in which there was going to be a quorum.

Today Gibson told the board he was reviewing the agenda the evening before the scheduled June 6 MAC meeting and discovered an email from Smith, relieving him from his position on the committee. “I knew nothing of this prior to this email,” Gibson said, pointing out he is on the water every day and felt that he was an asset to the committee on which he said he enjoyed serving. He also expressed disappointment that Smith did not contact him to discuss the matter. “He had my number. Why didn’t he just call me.”

Gibson, former owner and operator of Nichol’s Seafood Restaurant & Marina, went on to say the MAC meetings were changed from monthly to quarterly – a move he objected, noting that if there wasn’t a quorum for a quarterly meeting too much time passed between the meetings. “When we met monthly we could catch up easily.”

Following Gibson’s statement, District 3 Commissioner James Calkins made a motion to reinstate him to the MAC.

“He knows more about our waterways than probably anybody else in this county,” Calkins said. “I don’t believe anybody on this board intended to fire Pasco Gibson, who is a well-respected, very honorable person who has served 17 years…What did he do wrong to get fired? He did nothing wrong.”

However, District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker, who was acting chairman of the board in the absence of Commission Chairman Colten Wright, stated he was “uncomfortable” supporting the reappointment of Gibson. 

The motion for reinstatement died for lack of a second.