This article has been updated to correctly state the order of events: Miller and Search were arrested and later suspended.
Governor DeSantis announced the appointment of Diane Spencer and Roberta Ulrich to the Sumter County Board of Commissioners to fill the remaining terms of Oren Miller and Gary Search, who are on trial after being suspended late last year.
Diane Spencer – a longtime local public servant – will be one of the new Commissioners. Spencer currently serves as vice chair of the board of UF Health Central Florida, as well as on the NSCUDD. She is extremely familiar with how the local government works, and we believe she will make an excellent County Commissioner. The Resident Report recently profiled her and her many years of service to the community; you can read that exclusive interview here.
When reached for comment Spencer said, “It is an honor to serve as a Sumter County Commissioner. Our citizens can count on me to serve in an honest and independent fashion. I’m going to dig in, listen, learn, do my homework, and make decisions based on facts that best serve all the citizens of Sumter County. I am grateful to Governor DeSantis for his support and look forward to being on the ticket with him this fall”.
The other County Commissioner chosen by the governor is Roberta Ulrich. To say that her resume is impressive is a massive understatement. She has served in the top levels of government, and is actively involved in national, statewide, and local political groups. With immense gratitude Ulrich said, “I am honored to be appointed by Governor DeSantis. I believe it is my patriotic duty to use my God-given abilities to serve all Sumter County residents. It is with tremendous gratitude, placing honesty and the adherence to the highest standards first and foremost in my heart, that I accept this honor. I am eager to learn everything there is to learn, and I promise to be a workhorse, a Clydesdale actually, for the residents of Sumter County.”
No announcement has been made regarding a definite timeline on when the newly appointed Commissioners would be sworn into office; the Commission’s next meeting is March 22 (the fourth Tuesday of the month), which could provide for a speedy swearing in opportunity. Florida Statute provides the Governor’s authority to “appoint any vacancy in a state, district, or county office” for the remainder of the term if there is less than twenty-eight months remaining in the term of the vacant office – which would be until November 15, 2022. Both Spencer and Ulrich would need to run for reelection to continue to serve a full four-year term.
Miller and Search were arrested and later suspended on perjury charges in late-2021. Both cases are underway and the next hearing on whether to dismiss the claims or not will take place on Friday, March 25. Judge Anthony M. Tatti will preside over the hearing; Tatti was appointed to the court by former Governor Rick Scott and has heard two perjury cases during his tenure on the bench. Miller and Search could face up to five years of prison time if convicted of the third-degree felony charge. The two suspended Commissioners could also face prosecution for violating the Florida Sunshine Law – of which admissions have already been made – which by law, would be pursued by the State Attorney Bill Gladson.