It’s Wednesday so let’s talk about Josh Wooten.
His name came up a time or two during Tuesday’s county commission meeting.
Wooten has angered the Library Guy Gang for standing up publicly to denounce their hate agenda. He is one of very few — DISAPPOINTINGLY very few — community leaders who has the stones to defend our county against those who wish to do it harm.
So, naturally, the gang is making up things about him. They’re not true so I’m not going to repeat them. I will say they are ugly, vile and the kind of thing we have come to expect from this particular batch of citizenry.
They showed up wanting the county commission to fire Wooten. Never mind that he doesn’t work for the county. Lack of logic from the Library Guy Gang should surprise no one by this point.
No, they wanted him fired from his actual job, chamber of commerce president/CEO.
If you’re new here, you read that right. The chamber of commerce president is taking on the bullies, out in the open where everyone can see it. Not exactly the normal chamber president stuff, but again Josh isn’t the normal chamber president.
We go way back. I had a radio talk show on WXOF-FM (“Live Mic”) and Wooten became my first sponsor. He was a relative nobody then — had a used car lot in Hernando — but one of those guys wanting to get more plugged into the community, particularly politics.
He ran for county commission in 2000 and won, serving four years with Jim Fowler, Vicki Phillips, Gary Bartell and the late Roger Batchelor. I remember a lot about this group, but one thing comes to mind: It was the last commission, before the current one, to consider and eventually reject mandatory garbage.
(Looking at those names…man, that’s just a murderer’s row at the county commission. All five were powerful enough to carry a room. So when they debated, look out. They also produced the Great Homosassa Weenie Roast, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.)
He lost re-election and continued through life before being hired as the chamber president.
We’ve been close friends since my radio show days. The photo with this blog was taken at one of the Chronicle’s Diva Nights at the Plantation. He’s a guy who will goof on the camera for any occasion.
Some of Just Wright Citrus detractors, those who roam with the Library Guy Gang crowd, say I’m in Josh’s pocket or he’s in mine. Let’s throw the conspiracy jargon right out the window, OK? We’re friends so OF COURSE we speak often. My website, this business, wouldn’t exist if not for Josh and the Chamber of Commerce. This whole thing was partially his idea.
I’m a chamber member, for the first time in my life, and damn proud of it. Working for a corporation is great, but owning a business can feel pretty isolating at times. The chamber provides numerous opportunities for its members to network and succeed.
How in the heck did we allow the chamber of commerce to become a cheap target? Who woke up one day and figured, “You know, there’s something funny about those guys…”
As for Josh, he’s no dummy. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Josh is brash, he’s deeply political and knows a ton of people. He’s one of the funniest humans on the planet and if he’s emceeing your event, no one leaves early.
Josh is also cut-throat blunt. He is fiercely defensive of Citrus County, its people and business community. It’s all local for this dude and anyone who messes with that messes with him.
So it was a little funny when someone sent me an email Monday night being circulated by associates of the Library Guy Gang demanding the county commission fire Wooten because Wooten said something at the last meeting they found offensive (which takes irony to a whole new level).
Some of these folks showed up Tuesday with that same demand. To their credit, commissioners — even Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. — stayed away from it.
Josh Wooten isn’t your typical chamber parade guy (though he loves a chamber parade). But he gives two hoots about our community and he’s not afraid everyone knows.
Like him or not, Josh’s loyalties are clear. He’s one of us.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.