2 vie for open council seat

Special election scheduled for March 12

Sheri Kotzum | 315-4353 | @DestinLogSheri | skotzum@thedestinlog.com
On March 12, Destin residents will elect one of these two candidates to serve on the City Council. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

On March 12, Destin residents will have the opportunity to decide between two candidates to serve on the City Council.

After the sudden resignation of former councilman Tuffy Dixon in December, the City Council decided to hold a special election on March 12 to fill the position. That date is already set aside for municipal elections in Fort Walton Beach, Shalimar, Cinco Bayou, Crestview and Laurel Hill.

Destin’s City Charter clearly states that when a council seat is vacated, a new member must be elected no sooner than 60 days and no longer than 90 days from the date it becomes empty, according to Paul Lux, the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections.

As a result, the council decided to appoint Steven Menchel – one of the candidates – to fill Dixon’s seat until the special election could be held.

Menchel is a former federal agent who retired to Destin 11 years ago. He has been involved in the Public Works/Public Safety committee, the Local Planning Agency and the Adopt-A-Street program.

He was also instrumental in a project that resulted in Gulf Power crediting the city of Destin $78,142 for overpayment of street light usages in 2016.

“Being on these different committees and being so involved, I know the issues, I have the background and I feel like I can just keep moving forward assisting the city with the projects and responsibilities of the City Council,” Menchel said.

Menchel said being retired will enable him to devote all his time to the City Council if he's elected.

“I am a 24/7 City Council member. I want to serve Destin full time,” he said. “Based on my background as an investigator, I’m gonna analyze all sides of an issue. I’m gonna treat everybody with respect. No one issue is more important than the other. It’s not about me, it’s about the people that elect me to serve.”

Teresa Hebert is the other candidate hoping to be elected to the City Council.

The Mississippi native retired from the Navy after serving for 20 years and moved to Destin in 2012.

Since then, she has been involved in various committees and has been the chairwoman of the Parks, Recreation, Environmental and Tree Committee and the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Working with her committees, she has been instrumental in helping upgrade the Morgan Sports Complex by installing new children’s equipment and painting the bathrooms, getting new piers at the Main Street Pier and “helping clean up old Destin” by instituting an ordinance that only allows three recreational vehicles on the sides of resident’s homes.

“We basically took on an inspection mode and made recommendations to City Council on what needed to be done,” she said.

But Hebert said she doesn’t want to make recommendations anymore, she wants to help make things happen.

“I want to be able to make a bigger impact,” she said. “Being on the City Council, I think, is a great opportunity for me, who has the passion and the drive to take care of Destin as a whole, not just one little subset like some people on City Council seem to be doing.

“I am very passionate and I am very involved and I am very honest,” Hebert added. “You’re gonna get what you want and see with me. I really care about Destin doing well and having the leadership that cares about everyone in Destin, not just a select few.”