'The right time': Mayor Seevers will not seek re-election in 2014

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Mayor Sarah “Sam” Seevers was sworn in as the city’s first female mayor in 2010.

After 12 years in the public eye, Mayor Sam Seevers will not seek re-election in 2014.

"It's just time," she said. "There is nothing negative to this decision at all."

Sitting down with The Log, Seevers said there was never a doubt in her mind that she would seek a second term as mayor. As October drew closer though, Seevers said she began to sway from that steadfast position.

Sitting down with her family during the Thanksgiving holiday, Seevers said she made the final decision, without pressure from her family who urged her to "do what I wanted."

With her children both under the age of 30, Seevers has spent almost half of their lives serving the public.

Between almost weekly city meetings, countless nights studying issues at home, and weekly, if not daily, speaking engagements, almost every hour of every day was accounted for in one way or another.

"My family has sacrificed a lot for me to do this, and I really want to spend more time with them," she said, adding that she would also like to focus more on her business, Life's A Beach Publications.

Seevers was first elected to the City Council in 2002 and served until 2009. She became the city's first female mayor when she was elected in 2010, which happened to coincide with one of the largest environmental disasters in history — the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

"It was a very difficult time, having one of the worst media disasters unfold in your back yard," she said. "The city of Destin rallied and we got through it though."

Looking back at more than a decade of service, Seevers said there are more memories and successes than she could ever count. The creation of the Town Center and Harbor Community Redevelopment Agencies and beach restoration are most memorable though.

"These are things that I wanted to accomplish and campaigned on, and with help from a lot of hard working people and city staff we were able to get it done," she said.

Seevers told The Log that improvements to Legion Drive, Mountain Drive, Main Street and the Commons Drive extension are also high points.

While there is "plenty of excitement" for Destin's future, Seevers said her main concern will remain the stabilization of Norriego Point, even after she departs from her role as mayor in April.

"It's critical," she said. "I will give 150 percent of myself until that project is completed. We've spent way too much time and energy working on this."

The city is still in the running to receive funding to complete the almost $10 million project through the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program.

Although she has decided not to seek re-election, don't expect Seevers to walk off quietly into the sunset.

She will still serve in her role as a commissioner for the governor-appointed Volunteer Florida, as well as an outspoken advocate for everything Destin.

"I'm not going away," Seevers said. "I live here and own a business here, so you can't get rid of me that easy."

Although the decision not to seek re-election was one of the most difficult choices she has ever made, Seevers told The Log she is 100 percent comfortable with her decision.

With five months remaining in her term, Seevers said she hopes to see "young and bright" candidates throw their hat in the ring in the next mayoral race.

"I know it's the right time for someone new to come and take a leadership role and help shape Destin," she said. "It's about being a good steward in the community and building relationships."

And while she would "never" grade her performance as Destin's mayor, Seevers said she has given every ounce of energy to make sure that Destin remains a world class city.

"My job was to represent Destin and showcase it in the best possible light," she said. "It’s been one of the most rewarding and challenging positions I've ever had."