Sign controversy brewing on Holiday Isle

Maddie Rowley | 315-4353 | @maddiedestinlog |
Holiday Isle resident Alan Osborne received a citation for violating the Holiday Isle Improvement Association's sign codes just house after displaying a sign for mayoral candidate Gary Jarvis. [MADDIE ROWLEY/THE LOG]

Two residents of Holiday Isle in Destin were cited by the neighborhood’s Holiday Isle Improvement Association for violating the organization's sign codes, but they believe the citations could potentially be politically motivated.

Alan Osborne and Robyn Wehunt both have had posted campaign signs promoting candidates in the past without any issues. However, both received citations from the Holiday Isle Improvement Association within hours of posting signs promoting charter boat Capt. Gary Jarvis' campaign for mayor. Jarvis' opponent in the race is current Mayor Scott Fischer, the director of the Holiday Isle Improvement Association's board of directors.

"Selective enforcement is the first step to control a government in socialism," said Osborne. "When it comes to rules, they either apply to everybody or nobody when your job is to represent the people."

Wehunt agreed to have a "Captain Gary Jarvis for Mayor of Destin" sign posted in her front yard after a member of Jarvis’ campaign committee asked her permission.

"I left to pick up my daughter from school and by the time I came home, I found a citation on my front door," Wehunt said.

Wehunt, who posted a Trump sign in her yard during the 2016 election, said this was the first time she has been cited by the HOA. Osborne also posted signs for Trump and Matt Gaetz on his property in the past but was never cited.

The signage rules and regulations for Holiday Isle are posted on the improvement association's website and state that signs are prohibited in the right of ways, and only "For Rent" or "For Sale" signs shorter than four feet tall and two feet square in any given area are allowed.

Throughout the neighborhood, "Scott Fischer Mayor" signs that include the phrase "preserving the heritage of Destin" are displayed prominently on personal vehicles in driveways. The magnetic signs are within HOA code, according to Fischer, who said that he hasn’t attended any association meetings or read any emails regarding association issues and is not in any position to comment due to the upcoming election.

The Holiday Isle Improvement Association declined to comment on the signage citations. The Log contacted the Holiday Isle Improvement Association's security officer who said he was directed to issue citations for the Jarvis signs, but declined to say who directed him to do so.

David Schuessler, president of the improvement association's board of directors, said the security officer would not have been directed to issue citations on the signs by a board member, but would have done so on their own if the signs violated the protective covenants and restrictions of the association.

Congressman Mel Ponder, who served as the Mayor of Destin from 2014 to 2016, said that he did not remember being allowed to post campaign signs on Holiday Isle.

Jarvis thanked his supporters for exercising their right to free speech, saying "I am quite shocked and disappointed that something like this would happen in Destin."

The Holiday Isle Improvement Association's website states that residents who are presented with a citation owe $50 for the first infraction, and $100 thereafter.

Osborne said that he would be happy to pay any fine necessary, but that his Gary Jarvis sign isn’t going anywhere.

"Electoral free speech is protected by the Constitution," Osborne said.