The people spoke Tuesday night at the polls, and Jim Foreman will remain in his seat on the city council dais.
“It paid off to run,” the Army veteran told The Log Thursday. “I found out that there are people who legitimately support what I’m interested doing.”
Foreman won about 44 percent of the vote during the special election that was held to fill the seat vacated by Larry Hines, who stepped down to run for Okaloosa County commissioner. He had previously been appointed by the council to fill the seat until the election.
In a three-man race, Foreman beat out business owner Rodney Braden, who received about 40 percent of the vote, and boat captain Andrew Stempki, who collected about 16 percent of the vote. Foreman previously served on the City Council from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2002 to 2006.
Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux told The Log that there are 10,157 registered voters in Destin, and Tuesday’s voter turnout was 75.8 percent, with only 1,300 eligible voters not casting a ballot.
“That’s very good for a municipal election,” he said.
On election night, Foreman, his family and friends gathered at the American Legion to watch the results come in. As for whether or not he was nervous, Foreman said “yes.”
“Over the years I’ve run and won, then run and lost,” he said. “I can definitely understand the disappointment the other guys are going though. It’s tough when you put all of that energy into something.”
While Braden and Stempki may have come up short, Foreman said there is no reason for the first-time candidates to be discouraged, urging them to keep pushing forward.
For his part, Stempki told The Log that he learned a lot and ultimately enjoyed the campaign process, but noted that the city council is “inherently flawed.”
His solution to the problem would be to pay the city’s elected officials, much like the members of congress, which would allow for a greater representation of the city’s residents. As for whether or not he would run again, Stempki said only if the position was paid.
“… the race becomes more about ideas and substance and less about name recognition,” he wrote to The Log.
Now that the election is over, Foreman says it’s time to continue working for the residents of Destin until his term expires in March 2014. He will be sworn in during the council’s Nov. 19 meeting.
“In the end you have to produce, and in this case we have a much shorter time to get things done,” he said. “I appreciate those who supported me and I don’t want to let them down.”
DESTIN FIRE CONTROL WINNER: In Tuesday’s only other Destin-specific contest, former commissioner Rick Moore unseated incumbent Ken Scoper for a seat on the Destin Fire Control District’s Board of Fire Commissioners. Moore (4,838) captured almost 63 percent of the vote, while Scoper (2,855) took about 37 percent.