ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — The Escambia County Board of Commissioners has a newly elected official after Mike Kohler won Tuesday night in District 2.
Kohler received 47.41 percent of the vote, which was 4,509 votes, compared to Kevin Brown’s 2,803 votes and Chance Walsh’s 2,199 votes.
When the results were published, Kohler said he couldn’t believe he had won by that much of a margin.
“When the initial vote by mail and early votes came in, I was shocked,” said Kohler. “We were up by 850 votes. I was very happy. In a three-way race, I was hoping to get 40 percent, but I knew I had done the work.”
As a former Navy officer, Kohler said planning is what he is used to, which he took with him when campaigning.
“I had a plan from the beginning that every day I would go walking through the district and knock-on doors,” said Kohler. “I don’t think I took more than five days off in the last couple months.”
Kohler said the expansion of Gulf Beach Sorrento Road is an immediate need for public safety, which will be one of his top priorities during his time on the board. He also said Bayou Chico contamination, the homeless situation and cleaning up blite in the county are his goals going forward.
He said he thanks everyone who believed and trusted in him throughout the campaign.
“It’s so nice to hear all of the nice things that people have said to me, but they really said it with their vote,” said Kohler. “They are giving me a chance and I promise I will do my job.”
One fun fact about Kohler and his wife is that they have completed a marathon in all 50 states and are on a quest to complete all seven continents.
In District 4, incumbent Robert Bender won another chance to defend his seat on the Board of Commissioners.
He won with 78.59 percent of the vote, which was 6,991 votes. His challenger, Stan McDaniels had 21.41 percent of the vote, which was 1,904 votes.
“It was great to see the results posted,” said Bender. “I have been working hard over the last four years and to see that rewarded, I appreciate the confidence in the voters that I am able to do this job and continue to be able to do it.”
Bender said he is focused on continuing what the board has been focused on.
“Public safety is my number one priority,” said Bender. “I’m looking to continue to expand those services and deliver them at the service that the residents expect. Of course, part of that is securing it for them. Also, I’m very honored to have the endorsements of the Firefighters Association and the Pensacola Policeman Avalon Association. I’ve worked hand-in-hand with them over these last four years and of course they know that is my priority.”
For the people that showed their support on Tuesday, Bender said he thanks them.
“Thanks especially to the people that came over and made comments about how I have been doing,” said Bender. “It is great to have that type of feedback from the people that have elected you. Going forward, I am going to continue to do things that I have done. I think have instituted a variety of things ranging from neighborhood cleanups to cleanups on the beach. I’m not going to rest on those and I’m not going to rest on improving things in the county.”
Bender will go on in November to face Democratic candidate Myra Van Hoose.