Bonifay citizens reaching breaking point with new mayor Larry Cook

The city held their first public meeting since the resignation of former Mayor Emily McCann and the termination of former Police Chief Jimmy Macon.
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 10:34 PM CDT
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BONIFAY, Fla. (WTVY) - Bonifay residents are becoming more fed up as changes continue in their city.

Thursday night, the council, led by new Mayor Larry Cook, held the first of two budgetary meetings.

The problem with that was, you could hear a pen drop most of the meeting. Sounds of papers shuffling and whispers among the council were the main noises ringing throughout the room, with occasional comments from a council member.

Many had concerns with the two budgets purposed.

“It’s miraculous that before they couldn’t find $630,000 for the police,” said Richard Willsey, referring to the council considering shutting down Bonifay PD earlier this year due to budget concerns. “We fought and got that up to $802,000, but there’s more that could’ve gone into that to make our department better.”

When the first meeting was adjourned, the floor was made open for comments from the citizens. Before anyone took the stand, Mayor Cook said comments were only to be made about the budget and continuation to bring up other matters would result in people being removed from the meeting.

Sure enough, four different citizens were escorted out of the room, per request of Larry Cook.

“I was ejected from the meeting because Mr. Cook decreed as a dictator that I was being disruptive to the meeting, because I had questions and I had comments,” said Richard Willsey.

The crowd became rowdy after one particular individual was asked to be removed. Captain Chuck White with BPD took his time to escort one out as the crowd was saying it was their first amendment right to speak. Mayor Cook then ordered Cpt. White to ‘do his job,’ irritating the citizens even more.

“Larry Cook is not allowing us to actually voice our opinions, whether it is about a budget or not,” said Samantha Perry, who attended the meeting. “It doesn’t matter what meeting this is, you can voice your grievances with the government according to the Constitution of the United States, and this is a government. The 14th amendment made it clear that everything in the first amendment applies as a trickle down.”

With so much change within the city over the last few months, many citizens feel the future of the city is in danger.

“Oh absolutely,” replied Angela Willsey when asked if she was concerned for the future of Bonifay. “This is not over with the police. This is some type of personal vendetta. All he wants to do is shut it down and the former mayor, that’s all she wanted. No matter what solutions you offered them, it was pound the gavel and get rid of them.”

News4 attempted to interview Mayor Cook after the meeting, but left the room. An attempt was made to get his attention but it is unclear if he didn’t hear it or he ignored the call.

Bonifay city council has a regular scheduled council meeting September 11 and their final budgetary meeting on September 25.

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