Residency of new Escambia County School Board member David Williams challenged

Williams maintains he lives in District 3 but admits he owns a home in District 1 he plans to sell or rent.

Pensacola News Journal | By Jim Little | December 1, 2022

Former District 3 Escambia County School Board member Laura Edler is questioning the residency qualifications of her successor David Williams.

Edler told the News Journal she has filed a complaint with the Florida Secretary of State’s office alleging that Williams does not live in District 3.

The News Journal has contacted the Secretary of State’s office for comment, but has not yet received a response.

Edler lost the Aug. 23 election to Williams by 1,349 votes, with Williams winning 56.93% of the vote to Edler’s 43.07%.

Edler alleges that Williams does not live at 213 E. Jordan St., the address where he is registered to vote.

“He was not even living there at qualifying time, and that’s a violation of the statute,” Edler said. “It’s also deception to the citizens of this community and to the children that we are to serve.”

Williams, who is a former principal of Pensacola High School, spoke to the News Journal from an education conference in Tampa. He said he lived in District 3 and met all of the requirements to hold the District 3 seat.

“I’ve done everything above board, and anybody that knows David Williams knows that I would not do anything deceitful or that was not above board,” Williams said.

A property records search shows that Williams and his wife own a house in the South Gulf Manor subdivision located in District 1 in the Bellview area.

Williams claimed a homestead exemption at the Bellview property for 2022. Florida law requires anyone claiming a homestead exemption on property to live there as their permanent residence on Jan. 1 of that tax year.

Williams filed to run for school board in October 2021 at the 213 E. Jordan St. address.

When asked about the homestead exemptions, Williams confirmed that he owned the Bellview property, but he said he did not live there.

“We haven’t decided whether we’re going to rent or sell it yet, but we are we are renting at 213 E. Jordan St.,” Williams said. “All of the bills are in my name. Matter of fact, my wife and I, we’re going to build a brand-new house in District 3. We are committed to District 3.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis has shown a willingness to remove local officials from office who do not live in their districts. Earlier this year, a Florida court upheld DeSantis’ removal of an Alachua County School board member who did not live in her district.View Comments

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