Four seats up for grabs in municipal elections; Jim Foreman is the only incumbent planning to run

Matt Algarin

When the 2014 municipal elections shake out in Destin, the city council dais may look a little different.

As voters take to the polls in March, they will be voting for a total of four spots — three councilors and mayor.

Councilman Jim Bagby will term out after serving 8 years and the seats currently held by Councilmen Larry Williges and Jim Foreman are up for re-election.

Mayor Sam Seevers will not run for re-election, recently telling The Log that "it's just time." Former Councilman Mel Ponder has already thrown his name into the race for mayor.

Those who wish to run must qualify through the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections office no later than Jan. 3.

Foreman told The Log that he has every intention of running for re-election.

"Mainly, I have had and continue to have interest in the local issues," he said. "And, it's a pleasure to work with the other council members and great staff."

Councilman Larry Williges told The Log that after careful consideration, he decided that it was time to take a step back. He will not seek re-election.

"I think after 12 years, and one month shy of 84 years old it's time," he said. "It's been really nice and an honor, but it's time to let some younger people get in there."

After speaking to City Manager Maryann Ustick, Williges said he would be more than happy to serve on blue ribbon panels or ad hoc committees in the future, but dedicating the energy to council has gotten to be more and more difficult.

"I've neglected my yard work and there are plenty of things that I want to do," he said. "I'll take the smiles and go."

Destin resident Matthew Pace is the only person to pre-file through the supervisor of elections office so far, having done so back in May. Pace has been a Destin resident since 1999 after coming to the area with AmeriCorps.

Speaking of the city's beauty and cleanliness, the computer business owner said he wants to clean up "the backside of Destin," which he called a "forgotten area."

"I attend the CRA meetings and try to stay involved," he told The Log. "I want to bring a fresh face to the Destin City Council."

After 8 years as a Councilman, Bagby said he will look back at his time on the dais with fond memories. He said there were a number of positive things the city accomplished, and they greatly outweigh the negatives they didn't quite get right.

"I'm sad, but I believe in term limits," he told The Log. "We did some really great things with the harbor boardwalk and Norriego Point, but we also had some missed opportunities, like the CRAs."