Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lancaster Ends 16 Years on County Commission

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lancaster Ends 16 Years on County Commission

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Larry Lancaster got the last word.

Typically, the chairman of the Clay County Commission is the final one to speak at the board's meetings, making concluding remarks and calling for adjournment.

But on Tuesday, Chairwoman Christy Fitzgerald made a special exception, deferring to Lancaster at what was his last meeting as a commissioner.

He graciously accepted applause and thanks from fellow commissioners who said they viewed him as a mentor and the epitome of a dedicated public servant. But he downplayed their comments that his departure marked the end of an era.

"The sun," Lancaster said, with a laugh, "will come up tomorrow."

He then closed out his 16-year tenure and headed out to a farewell dinner with fellow commissioners and county officials.

Lancaster was first elected to the District 5 County Commission seat in 1984 but resigned four years later to run for school superintendent. He lost that race, but was re-elected to the commission in 1992 for the first of what would be three consecutive, four-year terms.

When his brother, Sheriff Scott Lancaster, leaves office in January after 12 years, Clay County will be without one Lancaster or another in office for the first time since 1975. That's when their father, who had already been a commissioner, began a 10-year stint as supervisor of elections.

Larry Lancaster, who teaches government at Orange Park High and has been a classroom teacher and an assistant principal in Clay County public schools for 35 years, announced in April that he would not seek re-election. He said he no longer had the "proverbial fire in the belly" for politics and wanted to spend more time with his family.

"When I made the decision to retire . . . it was not an easy decision," he said Tuesday. "It has been truly an honor. …

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