Eight is enough: A crowded race for three open seats in City Council

Matt Algarin
There are eight candidates running for three openings on the Destin City Council. The election will be held March 11.

When voters take to the polls March 11, they will see a mix of familiar names and newcomers.

As of the final day of qualification on Jan. 3, there were a total eight candidates running for three open council seats.

Candidates that have either held office in Destin or ran before include current Councilman Jim Foreman, former councilmen Larry Hines and Tom Weidenhamer, and Rodney Braden, who previously ran for office in 2012. New faces include Matthew Pace, Prebble Ramswell, Skip Overdier, and Scott Jacobs.

The top three vote getters will take the seats on the dais that are up for grabs, with current councilmen Jim Bagby (terming out) and Larry Williges (not seeking re-election) rolling off. Foreman is the only current councilman seeking re-election.

Rodney Braden was born and raised in Destin and has owned a home repair company since 1990. As a father and businessman, the 46-year-old told The Log there are things in Destin he wishes were different, as do many people he has spoken with. Running for city council is a way to give a voice, he said, to fellow citizens while monitoring future growth in "the city we love."

"One of the most important issues I would like to address is to help redirect Destin's image as it grows," he said. "I think Destin has strayed from the quiet, wholesome, family-oriented fishing village it once was. I would like to see it return to the place you can raise your kids without having to worry about the town being overrun with adult entertainment establishments."

For Jim Foreman, a 76-year-old retired Army veteran, there is a long standing interest in the city of Destin and local government, having previously served on the city council and various committees.

As a council member, Foreman told The Log that he can make a difference and to do that he must be elected by "the good citizens of the city."

"The driving force going forward is a sustained improvement in the economy of Destin," he said.  "Maintaining the quality of services provided by the city depends on a healthy tax base."

Larry Hines spent 20 years in the military (retired) and 13 years in the computer software business before serving on the Destin City Council. Hines resigned from the Destin City Council in 2012 during his term to run, unsuccessfully, for a seat on the Okaloosa County Commission.

The 69 year old says his previous experience on the council and other political organizations offers him the know-how and relationships to get things done.

"For me it's all economic," he said. "I know from my previous council experience and just being a citizen that the city has a long list of things they want to accomplish and most of them depend on having money to do it."

Scott Jacobs has lived in the area on and off since 1975 when his father was stationed at Hurlburt Field with the Air Force. Jacobs has called Destin home since 2003 and is a Realtor with Keller Willams Realty. He told The Log that he has a strong belief in family and understands how a community and government can impact the quality of life a family leads.

"I truly love Destin and want to ensure that our city continues to move in a positive direction," said the 41-year-old Jacobs. "Good things have been accomplished and I want to help Destin stay on a path that keeps us the World's Luckiest Fishing Village and the family friendly tourism destination."

Skip Overdier currently serves as the 1st Vice Commander at American Legion Post 296 in Destin, and says he wants to run for office because the city is at “a crossroads” in its development.

"I would like to help Destin diversify into light industrial, revenue generating business to complement the hospitality industry we currently enjoy," he said.

The 66-year-old Overdier retired from the Air Force as a chief master sergeant after 30-plus years, before serving as a partner in a real estate firm in New Mexico and as a civilian contractor for the Air Force.

Matthew Pace is the owner of Pace PC Solutions, an IT and marketing company in Destin. The 34 year old has been a Destin resident since 1999, after he was stationed here with AmeriCorps.

Pace was the first candidate to throw his name into the hat, pre-filing for the race in May. He said his biggest issue is cleanliness in the city, as enforcing codes and maintaining a clean environment in Destin is very important to him, and those he has spoken to.

"I have always been involved within the communities I have lived," he said. "I consider Destin my home and over the years there have been a lot of changes. I want to help shape the future of Destin so that it benefits the residents."

Prebble Ramswell considers herself to be the "typical local," a parent, employee, and “a beach lover.” Ramswell spent six years working counterterrorism for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to her bio on the Supervisor of Elections website. She is also the only candidate to have an IMDB page — as an actress/voice actress with multiple credits to her name.

She is entering her fifth season at the Destin Fire Control District, where she serves as an open-water lifeguard and junior lifeguard instructor. Ramswell said she was approached by members of the community and encouraged to run because they "felt there was a need for a councilmember with insight into and experience on our beaches."

"I am out and about talking with locals and tourists on a daily basis, as a result, I am not just part of the community, but one who feels the pulse of it," she said. "Simply, I will bring a fresh perspective to the Destin City Council and a sincere desire to ensure a better Destin, today and tomorrow."

As a former councilman, Tom Weidenhamer spent four years on dais and has served on various city committees over the years.  Weidenhamer lost out to current Councilman Cyron Marler after a close vote and a recount in the 2012 election.

He told The Log he feels as though he can work effectively with others on the council and with city staff to complete the goals at hand.

Weidenhamer has been a Destin resident and the owner of SOS Printing with his wife Nancy since 1990.

"I want to be sure that the design of the Norriego Point stabilization project not only provides for the protection of ingress to and egress from the harbor, but is also aesthetically pleasing from a visual standpoint so that everything involved will contribute to the betterment of the harbor and the visual appearance from the boardwalk," he said.