ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — With early voting going on this week and primary elections only two weeks away, WKRG News 5 sent out a questionnaire to the Escambia County Board of Commissioners’ candidates, so the public can know who they are.

All candidates were given the same questions and their answers were not edited or censored in any way.

Below are the answers for the candidates in District 2:

Kevin Brown, Escambia County Board of Commissioners candidate for District 2.

Kevin Brown:

  1. Why did you decide to run for Escambia County Board of Commissioners?

I am running for County Commission because I want to see Escambia County make the most of the opportunities it currently has available, through sources like oil spill dollars and federal funds, to address and upgrade the critical public safety and infrastructure issues we currently face without having to ask the taxpayers for more of their money.

2. What are your qualifications to be in this position?

For more than a decade, I was given the opportunity to work on Escambia County issues in various roles for the State of Florida. This allowed me to understand not only what issues are important, but also how to work together in order to get things done. Particularly when it comes to infrastructure and transportation issues. I also worked extensively on the oil spill recovery process and understand how we can better access available funding to improve issues like flooding, without needing to ask the taxpayers for more money. I was the former Legislative Director for Sen. Doug Broxson, former North Florida Director for Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Chairman of the Escambia County Republican Party.

3. In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Escambia County and how will you work to address them?

Public Safety, infrastructure, and economic revitalization. For public safety, working with other commissioners and the TPO to prioritize funding for Sorrento Road and Gulf Beach Highway. For infrastructure/stormwater, working with our state and regional partners to develop a regional stormwater strategy that will harden our infrastructure and reduce flooding as well as improve our water quality. By having a regional watershed-based solution, we can leverage more funding sources and provide a larger solution for this problem. For economic revitalization, working with businesses and communities in Warrington and West Pensacola to provide them with more opportunities for growth. Working with ECUA and the state of Florida to develop a plan for septic to sewer conversions, especially along the commercial corridor in Warrington, to allow for economic growth.

4. There are some citizens that are concerned about the current Board of Commissioners, what will you do to earn their trust back?

This is a crucial time for District 2, because it has many issues in which it has fallen behind and we need an advocate as commissioner who understands how to solve these problems on Day 1.

5. How will you work with the current administration to make sure the county is served to its best ability by the board as a whole?

I think we must remember that we are all on the same team, working for the same goal: the betterment of Escambia County. I also think showing the other commissioners that the issues of their districts are important, and building better relationships with them, will create more trust and support for the issues of District 2.

6. Finally, why should residents vote for you?

I believe I stand out, because I have the knowledge and ability to get things done from the moment I take office.

Michael Kohler, Escambia County Board of Commissioners candidate for District 2.

Michael Kohler:

  1. Why did you decide to run for Escambia County Board of Commissioners?

I am running for office to bring my 12 years of experience as an executive to the board and demonstrate the actual grit it takes to get things done for the great people of District 2.  People are exhausted by politicians, fake resumes, and crony endorsements.  The County Commission needs assistance with someone that could join the team and on day one has the skill sets to bring real change into county operations.

2. What are your qualifications to be in this position?

I am uniquely different form my opponent in that I got both my two-year degree ADN R.N. in 1991 from PJC (now PSC.) My Master’s degree M.Ed.-ETMS from UWF in 2004. I am the only veteran in the race which served on every military base in District 2 in an executive position. I have been involved in community service for decades from the Escambia County Health Facility Authority that has managed 1.3B in municipal bonds and given 1.5M back to local charities. I serve on the board of Northeast Sertoma which last year donated over 60K to local charities. I was the Race Director for the Rock N Fly Half Marathon & 5K the largest fund raiser for Navy Marine Corp Relief Society on NAS Pensacola for seven years. The total contributions raised were 230K. I have been screened and slated against competitive fields to serve as an Officer in Charge twice of two Navy Branch Health Clinics, served as the Director of Health Care Business for Naval Hospital Pensacola, and slated to be the Executive Officer of Navy Medicine Operational Training Command a tenant command located on NAS Pensacola. My wife and I have completed a marathon in all 50 states and are on a quest to complete all seven continents. I retired in May 2020 after 33 years of honorable service.

3. In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Escambia County and how will you work to address them?

The expansion of Gulf Beach Sorrento Road is an immediate need for public safety, movement of traffic, and EMS response times. This will require working with FDOT and the TPO to get the 75 million dollars required from the PD&E study done in 2018 yet to be funded.

The homeless and blite infecting the county at large is going to require someone that has developed plans both that are compassionate but have deterrents for those that do not want help.  We must preserve communities that are being taken over with ordinances neglect or that have little deterrence when cited.  

I would immediately work to hire a permanent County Administrator if the interim doesn’t want the job, or the county can get a more qualified person. This job is crucial to county operations and execution across all departments. The county has hundreds of job openings, and some excuses can be made with pay equity, COVID effects on the job market, and leadership engagement but it is time to tackle the problem head on. The citizen of the county should expect to have these issues addressed and resolved.

4. There are some citizens that are concerned about the current Board of Commissioners, what will you do to earn their trust back?

Earning the trust of the Escambia Citizen is vital to people believing in their local government. As a registered nurse for 31 years the most trusted profession in the United States for 20 years in a row and personally being trusted to lead large organization and people I am the only candidate with the skill set to make any headway with this serious concern. The last quality of life survey indicated a large drop in how citizens perceive the effectiveness of county government. The Commissioners all have a responsibility to work to improve the image of the board.  It is one of the reasons I decided to run. I like difficult challenges and I know I have the skill set to help change the image of the board.

5. How will you work with the current administration to make sure the county is served to its best ability by the board as a whole?

Teamwork, listening, and experience are pivotal traits required to be a County Commissioner. I believe my resume clearly shows I am the only seasoned executive that has succeeded in several challenging assignments. I also understand the push and pull that often happens to get to the best outcome. Having a commissioner that will bend to help the County but assure District 2 is fairly represented requires someone with experience in negotiating successfully with other Directors and Board members. I am the only candidate qualified with these traits with over a decade of experience.

6. Finally, why should residents vote for you?

I am running on three pillars of who I am as a person – caring, capable, and committed. I work from a premise that a commissioner should always work to care for the citizens they represent. I understand the need to actively listen and work to get to the best outcome. The citizens will get someone they will be able to trust.

I believe I am the most capable with my executive experience, education, and years of community involvement that clearly separates me from my opponents. The citizens will get a qualified candidate.

I am committed to improving the county not just part time but full time. They will get a commissioner that will have diligent oversight.  I will work relentlessly with other Commissioners and staff to improve the image of the board for the citizens of Escambia County.

The citizens will get a full-time Commissioner. 

I respectfully request your consideration and vote on August 23.

Chance Walsh, Escambia County Board of Commissioners candidate for District 2.

Chance Walsh:

  1. Why did you decide to run for Escambia County Board of Commissioners?

I decided to run after living here for over 35 years and not seeing many of the changes I wanted to see. In particular, I was concerned about traffic congestion caused by the exponential growth that was taking place prior to addressing our critical infrastructure needs. Unsafe roads have contributed to the loss of too many lives in our community. I also was appalled at the serious flooding issues in our District, that have been pushed to the backburner and forgotten about for so long. The real breaking point for me was when I went to speak at an Escambia County Commission meeting, in an effort to save my business from the effects of beach closures, and was essentially dismissed. I was rushed, only given a couple of minutes to speak, and did not feel like my voice mattered. No citizen should be made to feel that way! As a life-long District 2 resident, I then made the decision to run for Commissioner in order to directly fix and address these issues- instead of waiting for someone else to fix them for us.

2. What are your qualifications to be in this position?

I’ve spent my entire life running a business, managing people and budgets. I have the kind of real-world experience that a member of the County Commission should have. Running the Board is similar to running a business – you have to prioritize and address funding in a smart, efficient way, while also cutting waste. Having grown up here, I also have the opportunity to watch our issues multiply as time went on.

3. In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Escambia County and how will you work to address them?

The top three issues facing our community are 1. Maintaining and improving our infrastructure, including fixing our roads and addressing traffic concerns; 2. Prioritizing funding for public safety so that we can reduce crime, and so everyone can live in a safe neighborhood; and 3. Enforcing the cleanliness of derelict property and better equipping code enforcement.

4. There are some citizens that are concerned about the current Board of Commissioners, what will you do to earn their trust back?

I am committed to engaging in open dialogue with all residents, to being available to listen and hear everyone out. I also will not participate in government retirement or pension plans that are undue burdens on our taxpayers, especially when we have many important projects that need to be funded.

5. How will you work with the current administration to make sure the county is served to its best ability by the board as a whole?

I came into this campaign with zero previous connections or relationships to the current Board and administration. I think this is an asset, as I would be entering as Commissioner with a complete blank slate. This offers me the unique opportunity to begin to build relationships with other Board Members and county staff, and to be able to discern their current behavior with an unbiased eye.

6. Finally, why should residents vote for you?

I’m the only candidate running who is a regular citizen, who was upset about different community issues and wanted to genuinely make a change. I’m not looking to make a career out of politics; and I’m not planning to use this seat as a steppingstone to run for other public offices. I’m not afraid of anyone or anything; I never back down from a challenge. As you can see, the way I have run my campaign is drastically different from my opponents. I want to represent the citizens and their wants and needs- not what Chance Walsh wants and needs, and definitely not what any corporate interests or wealthy donors want and need. I’m always open to communication with residents so that I can better determine what the majority of District 2 resident’s interests are. I look forward to being of service to my hometown, and to giving Escambia County a true Chance for Change.

The candidates for Escambia County Board of Commissioners, District 4, will be published tomorrow, Aug. 16.

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