OKEECHOBEE — After more than 10 years serving the county as commissioner, Bryant Culpepper announced his resignation on Facebook Monday, March 22. Re-elected in November 2018, Culpepper is a little more than half way through his third term as commissioner.
Culpepper blames his health for his resignation, explaining he has had Type II Diabetes for many years, and it continues to worsen despite all his efforts to control it. In the last year, Culpepper said he has lost almost 40 pounds in an effort to control his rising sugar levels. “I felt I needed to go in a different direction and rid my life of as many sources of stress as possible,” he said. “I know I bring most of it on myself. I have always been an over-achiever, and when I see something that needs to be done, I do it. I want to get things done. I don’t want to waste time.”
At almost 72 years old, Culpepper has outlived all his male ancestors, most of whom died before the age of 55. Culpepper said he would like to live as long as he can and enjoy life with his wife and family. The way his health was shaping up, he did not think this would happen if he remained in office.
“I’m trying to eliminate everything in my life that has caused me stress and settle down and relax.” He and his wife will be doing some traveling, heading to Kentucky to see family. He went on to explain there are so many things that make being a commissioner stressful. “We are blamed for everything, even things we have no control over. People blame us for the round-a-bout. They blamed us for WaWa taking so long. Most of the things we are blamed for are out of our control. The city council is treated the same way.”
He has enjoyed his time on the board and will miss serving. “When I look over the last few years, I see some really great things this board has accomplished. I wouldn’t change it at all. It has changed the face of Okeechobee in a very positive way while maintaining that hometown environment that brought me here.”
Culpepper said normally if there is less than two years left in a term, the governor will appoint someone to take the seat. If there is more than two years left, normally they hold a special election to fill it.
Although a governor appointment might be the ideal result, it is possible the seat will go unfilled until the next election as has happened in the past. There are many positions open in Florida that the governor has failed to fill. For example, the Heartland seat (which represents Okeechobee County) on the South Florida Water Management District has been open for months.
On Thursday, Culpepper will officially sign his retirement/resignation paperwork. He said he has already turned in his letter of resignation. He will attend his last meeting Thursday, March 25.
“History will be my judge, and I hope history is kind to me.”