DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The City of Destin welcomed a new mayor and two others to the leadership team Monday night.
Moving from the city council seat, Bobby Wagner took the oath as Mayor under Okaloosa County Commissioner and Chairman Mel Ponder during the packed meeting.
“I’m ecstatic, I’m just really excited to see all the support and the citizens that came out for each and every one of us that are taken a new position up here on the Council seat,” said Wagner. “I’m just really honored to be holding the gavel, leading the city and really just moving forward with these citizens in mind. I think this is just going to be a very good four years of communication, cooperation and leading local projects that create a difference for the Community and everyone that lives and calls Destin home.”
Wagner gave a speech making three promises to the residents of Destin as he steps into his new role.
“I want to tell the residents moving forward that I have three promises,” said Wagner. “There’s a lot of things up here at Council that I cannot control, but the three things that I can and will always control are my ability to listen, listen to the residents, their concerns, their frustrations, their dreams of Destin. I want to make sure that they are listened to and heard. The second would be to learn. I really want to continue learning not only in government but learning about the city, where we’re going, the instruments and the tools and technology that we can use to innovate and make sure that as we go forward, we’re doing so sustainably. The last one is just love, the love this community and the city have given me from growing up to a small business, I just want to be a mirror for the city and give it all back.”
Matthew Sweetser and Torey Geile ran unopposed to fill vacant city council seats. WKRG News 5 spoke to the newcomers after the meeting.
How does it feel at your first council meeting tonight?
“I’m feeling very excited and ready to go,” said Sweetser. “I hope that the residents can relate with me. I was born and raised here, a 5th generation descendant from a founder of Destin and I just hope to continue that tradition and keep our city strong.”
“I’m excited to help the Council members do the right thing for the citizens of Destin,” said Geile.
What are your big priorities?
“Beach acquisition and more beach access is definitely one,” said Sweetser. “The disability program that I would like to get started so everyone across the board, whether you’re a child to an adult senior, will have the proper ADA compliance. Programs for all children and everyone with a disability and everything else that will come my way as we go forward.”
“Local residents, first, above, and beyond anything else,” said Geile. “Local residents, then local businesses. I’m not a big fan of how the short-term rentals are affecting this city. I think that’s something that needs to be addressed in one fashion or another. Whether it’s to tax them appropriately so that we could sustain a better staff. But it needs to be evaluated.”
Serving city councilman Jim Bagby kept his seat pushing into his first full term.
The first meeting under the new council recognized outgoing councilman Rodney Braden. Braden lost the mayoral election to Wagner after serving on the council for eight years.