Councilman-elect Torey Geile is all about making Destin better for locals

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
Destin Councilman-elect Torey Geile.

Although their names were not posted on the recent election ballot, the Destin City Council will have three new council members on the dais in late November.

Running unopposed for the three seats were incumbent Jim Bagby, Torey Geile and Matthew Sweetser. The inauguration for the three council members and the new mayor will be Nov. 28.

New to the council is Geile.

Geile, 50 and originally from St. Louis, served in the Air Force but currently works for Destin Roofing Inc. He and a former wife moved to Destin when they left the service in 1993.

“I’d never been here before in my life,” Geile said.

Since the move. he has worked for Ponderosa Builders and others before eventually landing with Destin Roofing.

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Geile worked as a roofer by day and waited tables by night at Guglielmo’s Italian Grill before deciding to go to college.

He went to Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City and Okaloosa Walton Community College before moving on to the University of Florida, where went through the chemical engineering program.

Geile worked in Tennessee and Texas before moving back to the Emerald Coast in 2014 to again work with Destin Roofing.

“I gave up corporate America to come help them out” after owner Harold Ammons died, Geile said. “I looked at them as family.

"When he (Harold) shook your hand, it was a solemn word,” Geile said.

Why serve on council? 

Torey Geile lives in Indian Bayou and works for Destin Roofing Inc.

Geile said he hopes to do something for the locals once on the dais.

He said that when he first moved to Destin in the 1990s, “this was the friendliest place I had ever lived in my entire life. I’d never seen anything like it."

“Then over the years, we have changed. It’s not the same. The heartbeat of Destin is not what it used to be. The people are still the heartbeat. I think people right now are confused and they believe that tourism is what drives this economy and drives the city of Destin.

“I don’t believe that at all, I believe it’s the people. I believe it’s always been the people,” Geile said.

Geile said Destin is “pricing Destin out of people's price range. We have service workers that can’t afford to live here.”

Geile said when you go to a restaurant right now, people have to wait sometimes an hour or more because of a lack of servers.

“We’ve catered to tourism to the point where we have hurt the pulse of Destin … really putting Destin in a critical point,” he said.

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“There seems to be a lack of knowledge. The blue-collar worker is what makes Destin happen every single day. If we don’t have the service workers, you are eventually going to lose tourism, because if people have to wait three hours to get a meal, they are not going to come back to Destin,” he said.

Geile said there needs to be a balance.

“The locals are what drives Destin, everything else is just a pulse,” he said.

He suggested that maybe businesses have a local-only waiting list and in return the city give them some kind of tax break or some kind of city benefit.

“Something that would allow locals to actually enjoy the place we live,” he said.

He expressed dismay over the city’s recent purchase of beachfront property.

“I think that is the most ridiculous waste of money that you can possibly think of. There is no benefit for the locals,” he said, noting a lack of parking.

“My goal is to ultimately provide a Destin that my kids and other people's kids can afford to live in, grow in and run businesses in. I don’t see it moving in that direction,” he said.

“I want to make a difference … at least try. Give it my best effort and not be that couch quarterback,” he said.

Geile, who is twice divorced with four adult children, lives in the Indian Bayou area.