EDITOR'S NOTE: The Log's Matt Algarin will be providing live coverage of the meeting tonight at thedestinlog.com.
With those opposed to a possible strip club urging the city council to delay a decision until after the election, candidates have made their position pretty clear on the subject of a possible settlement vote on Feb. 24.
At a recent Destin Log and Destin Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, Realtor Scott Jacobs said he doesn't want to see the club open.
"I don't want to see it; I don't want it anywhere close to our schools, our day cares, our churches," he said of the club, which has set its sights on the old Pottery World on Airport Road. "This is a family destination... an environment people have chosen to live in based on a specific set of values, and I think this would undermine why most people choose to live here."
Take a stand against strip club: Opponents pack city hall in advance of possible settlement vote
As for Skip Overdier, the family atmosphere of Destin is one of the main draws to the city, so the strip club doesn't fit in with the type of community Destin thrives on.
"There are several other communities that thrive on those types of things, but I don't think Destin is one of those," he said. "I don't think we want it to become one of those."
Business owner Matthew Pace started out by saying that he is very direct in his approach to everything, whether it's family and friends or his business clients.
"This is a business, like any other, even though it's a risqué business, it's regulated according to Destin law and it's been pushed to the industrial area and taken out of commercial, mixed use areas," he said. "Not that I'm personally for strip clubs, I don't see how it's possible for someone to say you cannot have a business in here… I want the rules to be followed by everyone, not just a few select people."
While she isn't in favor of the strip club personally, Prebble Ramswell said her job, as a councilperson, would be to follow the "will of the people." She said they don't want to see this club open either.
"Looking at this suit, there are more questions than answers," she said, noting the club's location was moved from Mountain Drive to Airport Road and the property's purchaser paid more for the property than what it's worth. "We need to dump this; it's been going on way too long. We are wasting taxpayer money by drawing this out and out."
Tom Weidenhamer was sitting on the City Council when the late Terry Stephenson took the city to federal court, alleging his First Amendment rights had been violated.
"The judge ruled in his favor, which means the city of Destin had to settle with him," he said. "Am I personally in favor of this type of business? No. But do the federal courts say they have a right to be here? Yes."
Rodney Braden told the crowd that he was also against the proposed two-story establishment called The Runway.
"I'm against it 100 percent," he said. "I don't think we need any type of strip club or any business like it."
Current councilman Jim Foreman was "warned" by his attorney not to discuss the matter, but said "ask me later."