Andrew Demetric Gillum (born July 26, 1979) is an American former politician who served as the 126th mayor of Tallahassee from 2014 to 2018. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a Tallahassee city commissioner from 2003 until 2014, first elected at the age of 23.
Gillum was born in Miami and raised in Gainesville, Florida. He is the fifth of seven children born to Charles and Frances Gillum, respectively a construction worker and a school bus driver. Gillum graduated from Gainesville High School in 1998 and was recognized by the Gainesville Sun as one of the city's "persons of the year." He then moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to major in political science.
Gillum has received various honors and accolades. While attending FAMU, Gillum was recognized by the National Center for Policy Alternatives in Washington, D.C., as the country's top student leader in 2001. In 2004, he was named to Ebony magazine's "Fast Track 30 Leaders Who Are 30 and Under." Gillum was named as a "2010 Emerging Leader" by Essence Magazine.
In 2003, aged 23, Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission for a one-year term, becoming the youngest person to be elected to the commission. Gillum was a political science student at FAMU when he was elected.
He was subsequently elected to a full four-year term, in 2004, garnering 72 percent of the vote, and was reelected in 2008 and again in 2012.
Gillum served a one-year term as Mayor Pro Tem from November 10, 2004, through November 9, 2005. The joint body of city and county commissioners, known as the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency, elected him to serve as their chairperson for a year (January 2005 through December 2005). Gillum has also served as lead commissioner for the Long Range Community Based Target Issue Committee.
In 2005, Gillum was one of the commissioners who voted to give themselves a new retirement benefit through deferred compensation. The policy was later repealed by the commission after public outrage.
On May 24, 2009, Gillum married Rashada Jai Howard, a fellow FAMU graduate. The couple have three children.
As part of Florida A&M University's 2012 125th Anniversary Quasiquicentennial Celebration, Gillum was honored as an Outstanding Alumnus, along with 124 other FAMU alumni. Also in 2012, Gillum was named as one of "50 Young Progressive Activists Who Are Changing America," by The Huffington Post. In 2014, Gillum was named as one of the 40 Under 40 by The Washington Post political blog "The Fix."
Gillum supported the city's development project of Cascades Park, located in downtown Tallahassee. The park was built in 2013 and doubles as a storm-water management facility, protecting local neighborhoods from flooding.
In April 2013, Andrew Gillum announced his intention to run for mayor of Tallahassee. Gillum ran against three opponents: Larry Hendricks, Zach Richardson, and write-in candidate Evin Matthews. In the August 26, 2014 nonpartisan primary, Gillum defeated Richardson and Hendricks; capturing 76 percent of the vote with 19,658 votes. On August 27, 2014, write-in candidate Evin Matthews withdrew from the race, resulting in Gillum becoming mayor-elect.
During his mayoral campaign in 2014, Gillum faced allegations of misconduct after hiring private equity investor Adam Corey as the treasurer. Corey is an investor in The Edison, a restaurant that received taxpayer money from the city to help with the Cascades Park development project. During a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into the matter, city officials stated that Gillum's vote did not constitute a conflict of interest and Gillum cut ties with Corey.
Before taking office, Gillum met with various mayors to learn from their successes. He also launched the Tallahassee Mayoral Fellows Program in partnership with Florida Agricultural And Mechanical University and Florida State University, allowing high-achieving graduate students to gain experience working in City government. Gillum was sworn into Office on November 21, 2014.
In response to an increase in shootings, Gillum and the Tallahassee Police Department worked with community organizations to implement Operation Safe Neighborhoods in 2015. This initiative called for an increase in law enforcement visibility and capacity; strengthening strategic partnerships and community programs/opportunities; and enhancing community engagement and response, through the implementation of a community watch program called, Neighbors on the Block.
In January 2015, Gillum strongly supported the City of Tallahassee joining in the Ban the Box campaign; arguing that the initiative does not stop the city from conducting background checks, but rather gives applicants a fair shot at employment and reduces recidivism. On January 28 the Tallahassee City Commission voted 3–2 to drop the box.
On February 17, 2015, Gillum welcomed United States secretary of transportation Anthony Foxx to Tallahassee to kick off the Grow America Express Tour. Gillum also contributed to the DOT Fastlane Blog, in which he stressed the importance of long-term transportation investments for America's mid-size cities.
In an effort to overhaul how City Advisory Committees, a series of local advisory boards, operate in Tallahassee, Mayor Gillum released a survey in March 2015 to gain feedback into the city's numerous boards and motivate citizens to get involved with local government. Also in March 2015, Gillum participated in a conference call with other Florida mayors and United States deputy secretary of commerce, Bruce Andrews; a call in which Gillum stated his support for Congress to pass trade promotion legislation that would bolster international trade, and stressed the importance for local governments of a leveled playing field.
On March 27, 2015, Gillum held the Mayor's Summit on Children, a large conference in which business and community leaders came together to learn about the importance of investments in quality Early Childhood Education (ECE). Speakers included Dr. Craig Ramey, research scholar of human development at Virginia Tech, who spoke about the importance of ECE to language development and the vocabulary gap that can form between those who receive quality ECE and those who do not; and Rob Grunewald, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who spoke about the importance of early learning to the long-term economic success of a community.
In May 2015, Gillum launched a 1,000 Mentors Initiative, which aimed to recruit 1,000 men and women from diverse backgrounds to increase youth mentoring opportunities in Tallahassee, and help youth in need. Also in May 2015, Gillum, in partnership with several local and national organizations, orchestrated the Tallahassee Future Leaders Academy (TFLA), a summer jobs program which employed over 100 youths throughout city government. Gillum summarized the importance of a program like the TFLA in a July Op-ed, in which he highlighted how similar summer jobs programs from around the country have been shown to reduce arrests for violent crime, reduce youth mortality rates, and increase the likelihood of college attendance.
In October 2015, more than 400 strangers gathered around a 350-foot-long table in downtown Tallahassee to participate in the launch of The Longest Table, an annual initiative aiming to use the dinner table as a medium for generating meaningful conversation among people of diverse ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds. Organized by the Office of the Mayor and spearheaded by Community Engagement Director Jamie Van Pelt, the project won a $57,250 grant from the Knight Cities Challenge via the Knight Foundation.
In February 2017, Gillum apologized after the Tallahassee Democrat reported that his government office had been used to send emails through web-based software purchased from NGP VAN, a company that provides technology to Democratic and progressive campaigns. An investigation into the emails started after Paul Henry, a retired state trooper from Monticello, wrote State Attorney Jack Campbell in March to allege Gillum committed grand theft and official misconduct by paying for the software with city funds when he believed they served no public purpose. Gillum reimbursed the city for the $5,082.45 cost of the software on March 2, 2017. In August 2017, a Leon County grand jury declined to indict Gillum personally due to lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Gillum announced his candidacy for governor in March 2017, and was the first to declare his intention to run as a Democrat. Gillum won the Democratic nomination for governor in an upset victory over the expected winner, former congresswoman Gwen Graham, 34–31%. Gillum was the first black nominee for governor in Florida's history. Gillum conceded to Republican candidate Ron DeSantis on the evening of November 6, 2018. However, when the recount began, Gillum withdrew his concession, saying: "I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote." Gillum conceded again on November 17, after a machine recount was completed. The final tally showed DeSantis had successfully beaten Gillum by 36,219 votes, equalling about 0.4% of the over 8.2 million total votes cast.
In 2018, Gillum was the nominee of the Florida Democratic Party to be the governor of Florida. He had won the Democratic primary election over a field of five other candidates, including former U.S. representative Gwen Graham and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine. In the general election, he lost in a close race to Republican U.S. representative Ron DeSantis. Gillum's margin of defeat was just 34,000 votes (0.4%), making the election one of the closest gubernatorial races in modern American history.
In late January 2019, the Florida Commission on Ethics found probable cause that Gillum violated state ethics laws when he accepted gifts during out-of-town excursions with lobbyists and vendors and failed to report them. Ultimately, a $5,000 settlement was agreed to on four out of the five charges.
In May 2019, the FBI subpoenaed Gillum regarding his gubernatorial campaign.
In March 2020, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Gillum was one of three men, one of whom was experiencing a drug overdose, who were found by police with "plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth" in a hotel room in Miami Beach. No arrests were made. The person who overdosed has been reported by numerous outlets as a gay male escort. Initially, Gillum was too inebriated to speak with police. On March 16, Gillum stated that he would enter rehabilitation, citing struggles with alcohol and depression after narrowly losing the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race.
On September 14, 2020, Gillum came out as bisexual in an interview with Tamron Hall on her nationally syndicated talk show.
In 2022, Gillum was indicted on 21 felony counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements, for allegedly diverting money raised during the campaign to a company controlled by one of his top advisors. The jury found Gillum not guilty on the charge of making false statements and was hung on the remaining counts. In May 2023, the Government moved to dismiss the remaining charges against Gillum.
On June 22, 2022, Gillum was indicted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Florida on 21 felony counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements for allegedly diverting money raised during the campaign to a company controlled by Sharon Lettman-Hicks, one of his top advisors on his campaign, who then used the money to pay Gillum. In response, Gillum released a statement declaring his innocence and calling the indictment "political" in nature.
A federal judge refused to dismiss the federal charges levied against Gillum, disagreeing with Gillum's attorney's claim that he was singled out because he was a black gubernatorial candidate. The jury found Gillum not guilty on the charge of making false statements and was hung on the remaining counts. In May 2023, the Government moved to dismiss the remaining charges against Gillum.