FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — The Fort Walton Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to fill a vacant seat on the council.

The council voted for attorney and former councilman, John Mead, and he was sworn in. He is filling the seat of Larry Patrick who resigned in August because of health concerns.

The room was full of people who wanted Debi Riley in that position as they called for a more diverse city council. She was also a runner up for city council in 2021 and again this year.

People spoke in support of both Mead and Riley.

“It is important that our community is equally represented in the decision-making process,” Mary Gutierrez said. “Debi Riley is a strong community leader who was born and raised in Fort Walton Beach and is known for her advocacy work.”

“I do know that he is going to be his man…he’s going to be his vote and he won’t be influenced by some of this watch group stuff and all that’s going on,” Mike Holmes said.

Several people voiced concerns about having a new councilmember being sworn in and approving the upcoming budget in the same night but the council, including Mead, did approve a $56 million budget.