Bobby Wagner is elected mayor of Destin, defeating Rodney Braden

Kamal Morgan
Northwest Florida Daily News
Destin mayoral candidate Bobby Wagner, left, and Joshua Cowsert wave to motorists near the voting precinct at Destin City Hall on Tuesday. Wagner ultimately won the election, defeating Rodney Braden.

Bobby Wagner has been elected mayor of Destin.

Wagner earned 3,787 votes, just over 60%, to defeat Rodney Braden, who earned 2,477 votes, according to the unofficial election results as of Wednesday morning.

"It's been an amazing blessing for this community to believe in this mission that I put forth in this campaign," Wagner said about winning the Destin mayor seat. "To revive Destin's community, to reclaim our natural resources and to do so all in a sustaining way for economics and our environment. I'm just honored that the city has rallied behind this mission, and I'm so privileged to be the leader of this moving forward for the next four years in the city of Destin."

The Destin mayoral race was between two members of the Destin City Council after Mayor Gary Jarvis decided not to run for reelection. 

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

Bobby Wagner

Wagner, 28, grew up in Destin and started a video production company when he was 21. He is the executive director of the environmental nonprofit Trees on the Coast.

Wagner was appointed in November 2021 to fill the vacancy on the council left by the suspension of Prebble Ramswell. In the past year, he has served on the Destin City Council, Okaloosa County League of Cities, Northwest Florida Regional Council and Florida League of Cities. 

Wagner said he believes in a "givers-gain" philosophy, that when we give back to our community and environment then we will all gain from it. 

Destin mayoral candidate Bobby Wagner waves to motorists near the voting precinct at Destin City Hall on Tuesday.

Prior to the election, he said he planned to work on reviving areas like Main Street, Morgan Sports Center and Mountain Drive to regain a sense of community. Wagner said he also would work to reclaim access to natural resources like beaches, bay fronts and waterways through collaboration with willing sellers. 

"We need to work together to make sure that we are not only just a world class resort and fishing community for the residents, but that we also do so for the community," Wagner said after the win. "And that we give customer service to every local who lives in Destin regardless of the project, regardless of what's moving forward. We need to make sure that we take care of our number one client and that is the residents of Destin, Florida."

Wagner said he wants to focus on creating and completing quality projects that have the local residents in mind; establishing a better line of communication between the citizens, city, county and state; equipping staff with the correct tools to better enforce the laws; and working with the city manager, code director and citizens to create a more user-friendly and transparent system to resolve issues. 

"I have, and will continue to, bridge that gap so that we can progress together," Wagner said.

Braden, born and raised in Destin, spent eight years on the Destin City Council and is a local business owner of Rodney's Home Repair in Destin for the last 31 years.