After 20 years on the job, County Commissioner Cheryl Sanders has made quite a name for herself.

On the eve of her retirement, her colleagues paid tribute to that service, showering her with gifts and kind words for the indelible impression and years of service she has made to the county.

“I have worked with Cheryl that entire time, so I’ve had the privilege of seeing her accomplishments,” said Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson, opening a series of tributes at the Nov. 6 meeting. ”Cheryl is known across the State of Florida. My first trip to the Capitol for a legislative session was with Cheryl, and I was truly impressed by all the people that knew her and to whom she introduced me.

“Cheryl has been a major force with the Florida Association of Counties and has always encouraged the participation of her fellow commissioners with them,” said Johnson, noting that she served on their board of directors from 2003 until 2018, completed their certified county commission program in 2000 and their advanced county commissioner program in 2007.

In addition, Sanders serving on the association’s policy committee and legislative executive committee, and chairing their rural county caucus. She received a Presidential Advocacy Award and lifetime achievement award for her leadership.

On Tuesday afternoon, Chris Doolin, consultant with the Small County Coalition of Florida, and Ralph Thomas, a Wakulla County commissioner about to installed as president, paid tribute to their colleague by presenting her with a rocking chair.

“We will miss Cheryl when she’s gone,” Johnson said, at the Nov. 6 meeting. “She is a leader on the county commission. She has always done her homework. She maintained constant contact with my office, and it meant a lot to my staff that she would check with them about things she knew the board would be addressing on their agenda.

“Every year during budget time, she made time to speak to my finance staff on issues that concerned her and she asked questions for her constituents so she could vote her conscience,” said the clerk of courts. “And it wasn’t just my office she spoke to as Cheryl took time to investigate many, many items over the years that were coming before the board.

“I personally prefer to interact with people that are truly down-to-earth and speak from their hearts with honesty, regardless of the presentation and without worrying about the consequences, people who speak their mind,” said Johnson. “Cheryl exemplifies this manner, and my staff and I appreciate her.”

Johnson presented Sanders with a gift, and she was soon followed by Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper, who has known Sanders all her life; County Judge Van Russell; Sheriff A.J. Smith, who presented her with a plaque; each of the other county commissioners; and a host of others. Tax Collector Rick Watson and Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley were absent due to Election Day.

Also speaking was former state representative Will Kendrick, Sanders’ brother.

“She steered that ship as best she could. It was that love in her heart that kept her going,” he said. “She has no greater love than for the people she serves.”

Sanders thanked everyone for their kind words, and promised to continue her service to the community, a community that has grown to know and love her for her service.