Who are they? Meet Rodney Braden and Bobby Wagner, candidates for Destin mayor

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With election day nearing, Destin has only one item on the ballot – mayor.

The Destin Log reached out to the two candidates, Rodney Braden and Bobby Wagner, with a few questions to give you a bit of insight as to who they are and why they think they’d be the best mayor for Destin.

Rodney Braden

Q. Who are you?

Braden: I am 55 years old and I have three beautiful daughters. I was born and raised right here in Destin Florida. I have owned and operated my own construction company for 31 years.

Wagner: Although I am only 28 years old, I have been running a small business for 10 years, leading a nonprofit for three years, and serving on the city council for one. The most impactful years of my life have been here with this Destin community, which is why I feel it is my turn to give back and serve the community that has given me so much. And most importantly, I am not doing this alone. My better half, Bekah, and I have a passion for thinking holistically. We believe that in order for a community to thrive, all parts of that community must be heard, understood, and supported. Since we do not have children — only chickens — I feel I’m in the perfect position to put in the necessary time and energy needed to fulfill the mayoral role and create that sense of community that can embrace, support and guide our future generations.

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Bobby Wagner

Q. Why do you think you’d be a good mayor for Destin?

Braden: I would be a good mayor for Destin because I have eight years' experience being on the city council and making relationships with county and state officials. I have what it takes to continue moving Destin forward with good-quality development and re-development, not quantity.

Wagner: I am the better candidate because I have the passion, determination, vision, and, most importantly, the time to commit to making a long-lasting impact on our community as mayor.

I believe there has been a lack of communication, education and collaboration between citizens and the government. I have, and will continue to, bridge that gap so that we can progress together.

I believe in reviving areas of town like Main Street, Morgan Sports Center, and Mountain Drive so that the locals have somewhere to go and can regain that sense of community they feel they have lost. I want to reclaim access to natural resources like our beaches, bay fronts and waterways through collaboration with willing sellers. And most importantly, while doing all this, I promise to stay proactive and think sustainably so we, and future generations of Destinites, can continue to enjoy what makes Destin such a unique place to live.

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Q. What are your top three priorities for Destin? 

Braden: I believe the top three priorities moving forward would be, number one, continuing moving forward with under-grounding our utilities. Number two would be finishing the crosstown connector, and number three would be finishing our harbor-capacity study so hopefully we can fix our parking problem in the harbor district.

Wagner: I am a firm believer that when we take care of the environment, the environment will take care of us in return. God is not making any more land, and right now, we only have a few parcels left, so it is imperative that we make proactive decisions with a vision in mind. Our progression depends upon the quality of projects we decide to take on. My priority is being proactive and on the forefront to focus on creating and completing quality projects that have the local residents in mind. This way, we can progress in a manner that is beneficial to both present and future generations.

My priority is to give this position the time it needs in order to create a meaningful impact for us as Destin residents.

As mayor, I will establish a better line of communication between the citizens, city, county and state. I will be an ambassador for the city of Destin by being the voice of our citizens. I will make sure that our local concerns are heard and addressed at the county and state levels to find the necessary funding to pay for these improvements and increase our quality of life.

Another priority is equipping our staff with the correct tools so that we can enforce the laws we have. After door-knocking hundreds of houses in Crystal Beach, Holiday Isle, and West Destin, our citizens all share one main issue — code enforcement! As mayor, I want to work with our city manager, code director, and citizens to create a more fluent system — a system that is user-friendly, transparent, and most importantly, a system that resolves issues. We have the laws to create a better quality of life for everyone; we just need to focus on streamlining the process and creating a chain of command that gives our code officers the tools and responsibility to enforce our laws.

In summary, my priorities are to put politics aside and use my time to create proactive projects for the local residents. These projects will be funded through partnerships with county and state agencies. Lastly, I will lead and equip our city staff with the tools needed to preserve and protect this piece of paradise we all get to call home.