Challenger questions Parker’s use of county staff for dozens of promo videos

Posted on August 12, 2020 by ROMI WHITE

Santa Rosa County District 1 Commission Candidate Geoff Ross

District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker since 2018 has been making rounds, recording promotional videos at more than two dozen Santa Rosa County businesses. His challenger, Geoff Ross, claims Parker copied that idea from him and also questions how the incumbent can use county staff to follow him to businesses, record and edit the videos while on the clock and seek mileage reimbursement without reporting it as an in-kind campaign donation.

“He’s using the county to promote himself for re-election,” Ross said. “I went to the Wide Awake Café about two years ago, then I went to a Karate place in Gulf Breeze and another business…a month after I started posting them, he started.”

Parker disagrees. “To my knowledge the dates on the Facebook videos that we posted will reflect that we were posting promotional videos before Ross posted the few videos that he did.” 

Ross’ referenced video at Wake Awake Cafe was shared June 2, 2018. Parker’s @CommissionerParker campaign page on Facebook indicates a video produced by county staff was shared July 7, 2018. T

The county’s official District 1 Commission Facebook page shows a promotional video for Starbucks by county staff was first shared in April 2018.

Regardless of who started sharing the videos first in 2018, Brandi Bates, the county’s public information officer, confirms her office has so far shot and edited 25 videos for Parker at the following locations: 

  • 9Round
  • Alyssa’s
  • B&C Nursery
  • Badcock Home Furniture
  • Carter Crossing
  • Coffee Break
  • Delta Life Fitness
  • Food Raising Friends (charity)
  • Grover T’s
  • Gulf Coast Gun
  • Howard Young Flooring
  • Kay Jewelers
  • Mamma Lattes
  • Manning’s Feed and Seed
  • Patriot Nutrition
  • Philly’s Cheesesteaks and Hoagies
  • S and K Boutique
  • Santa Rosa Kid’s House (charity)
  • Smoothie King
  • Starbucks
  • Sonny’s BBQ 
  • Taste Buds
  • Team Remedy BJJ and MMA
  • The Clubhouse
  • Tropical Touch

Bates said county staff also edited but did not record three additional videos for Blackwater Bay Tours, Holley-Navarre Medical Clinic and The Strawberry Farm.

“We have shot a lot of videos for all the commissioners on a variety of items from informational videos to safety videos and other topics,” Bates said, adding, “Commissioner Parker wanted to specifically highlight local businesses, so we started the ‘What’s Happening in Your District’ video series.

Bates said she only sought a total of $32.29 for mileage reimbursements.

“I think the public awareness videos that the county staff and I have worked on and posted to social media over the past several years have been a great tool to help promote businesses in Santa Rosa County, provide information about non-profit groups, and share other important information with the citizens that we serve. I have received positive feedback from business owners as well as many citizens throughout the county that have said they considered the videos to be beneficial,” Parker said.