Mayor-Elect Gary Jarvis has some big plans for the next four years.
Jarvis came to The Destin Log office on Thursday morning to record a podcast and do a live Facebook video for constituents.
People were invited to comment on the live feed and ask the new mayor-elect questions about what he plans to accomplish during his four-year term.
Jarvis answered the hard-hitting questions along with lighter, get-to-know-you questions (he didn’t make a March Madness bracket — basketball isn’t his thing). Below are some of the highlights from the more than 30-minute interview.
How do you feel? Was the race what you expected?
"It’s always good to win. It was a close victory and it was hard-fought. This is the first time I’ve campaigned, so that was an eye-opener. One of the most interesting parts of the campaign was, even though I’ve lived here for years with my charter boat business, my sons and I own a few restaurants, and I’ve coached little league, I began to realize how many people I don’t know. It was fun to meet new people."How do you plan on balancing your charter business and restaurant businesses with your duties as mayor?
"My charter business is something I’ve done for 40 years, and in the course of being a charter boat captain and running my own business, I’ve also done a lot of civic-oriented type stuff, especially as president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, traveling and representing the fleet, going to D.C. I’ve been able to fit that into my schedule.
"As far as the restaurants are concerned, let me set the record straight. I am what you call the not-so-silent partner. I’m an investing partner for my sons. They’re the entrepreneurs; they’re the owner/operators. About the only thing I get to do at the restaurant is go in and eat some good food."This was a pretty divided race with a lot of opinions and a lot of things being said on social media. How do you plan on bringing the community together as a whole?
"I think most importantly, with the results of the race it became really apparent that I only won by 114 votes. So, half of the city of Destin voted for me and the other half didn’t. This puts all of us in the position where we need to focus on the business of the city, try to bring everyone together and do the right thing."One of your biggest goals is to shorten the length of city council meetings. How do you plan to do that?
"It’s called leadership, and planning and relying on the people who are responsible for accomplishing city-related tasks. The mayor’s responsibility is to cohesively set the agenda, lead the meeting, and represent the council. The key is to prevent us from getting in the weeds by challenging the city manager and staff to do their jobs and prepare items ahead of the meeting. There are many things that should be done on a consent agenda with a simple yes or no vote. A mom can’t come and participate in a city council meeting if it’s going to last until 10 p.m. and business owners have early-morning meetings. Bad things happen at meetings that are two and a half hours long or more.What do you plan to do about the parking issue around the HarborWalk area of Destin?
"Well, the parking issue and the congestion around the Marler Bridge is probably one of the things that the city can actually accomplish in a relatively short period of time. It’s pretty much a given that it’s going to have to be off-site parking on the north side of 98 and most likely, with the price of properties, it will likely be vertical parking options. I’m going to a parking planning meeting in Walton County for 30A because they’re having similar issues, so I’m going to go as an observer. Maybe we can apply some of that to the city of Destin."What’s the first thing that you want to tackle as mayor right out of the gate?
"I’m looking forward to getting sworn in on Monday by Judge Maney. I’ve known him for years and years in our church. I’m a quick study, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve talked to over 1,000 people face-to-face throughout this process. Only a small percentage of them talked about the Comp Plan. What surprised me is I got the sense that people are more so saying ‘what about us?’ One woman I talked to said that she doesn’t feel like the city council supports their own citizens. She had to pay for a $200 permit to put a $150 fire pit in her backyard. That doesn’t make sense and it took weeks to get the permit. There are some inefficiencies in the city that hopefully I can provide the leadership to make those changes."
To see the full Q&A session with Gary Jarvis, go to The Log's Facebook page.