SPRINGFIELD, Fla. (WMBB) — Several Bay County cities are gearing up to hold municipal elections in just a few weeks.
The League of Women Voters of Bay County hosted a forum Monday night for the community to learn more about the candidates.
Positions open for election include the Callaway Commission Ward 2, Mexico Beach Council Groups 4 and 5 and Springfield mayor.
Three people are running for the Mexico Beach Council Group 4 seat: Adrian Welle, David Masters and Donny Walker.
Two people are running for the Council Group 5 seat: Michele Miller and Richard Wolff.
These candidates discussed several topics regarding Mexico Beach, including taxes, short-term rental regulations and potential affordable housing.
They were also asked about their thoughts on the Tyndall Air Force Base expansion and how it will affect the city of Mexico Beach.
“Sales tax revenues are dependent on full-time populations, and without a full-time population, we aren’t gonna gain that revenue, so that’s what we need to work on,” Welle said. “Currently, everybody keeps going to Panama City when we try to get them to come to Mexico Beach, and it’s because there’s nothing there, so we need to get something back for them to attract them to the city.”
“I would hope that we could do something for Tyndall in the future, but I think in the near term if they move to Mexico Beach, they’re gonna be quiet… maybe even bored a little bit,” Masters said.
“None of us really want development and want all this stuff to come in, but it looks like it’s gonna happen, so the other things we’ve gotta look at is the increased traffic, the increased strain on police and fire if we’re gonna have to bring in more people for that,” Walker said.
“We do have two developments that’s taking place now and I think they’ll accommodate a lot of our military from Tyndall,” Miller said. “It’s a short drive, but it’s a beautiful drive, as well.”
“This will help us to some degree, the wives or husbands of the military being able to assist in that area,” Wolff said. “So I think we’re on the right track, we just need to keep moving forward and be aware of that and keep looking at the infrastructure and doing the proper things.”
Also at the forum, current Springfield mayor Ralph Hammond and mayoral candidate Carl Curti discussed topics in Springfield, including stormwater plans, hurricane recovery and construction expenses for the new city complex.
Hammond is looking to keep the position he’s held for almost ten years.
“The big thing that I think will help our city right now is city pride, and with the new complexes, new civic center, the roads being paved and the sewer projects we’ve got going on, Springfield’s going to be the best city in Bay County… just wait and see,” Hammond said.
Mayoral candidate Carl Curti used to be on the Springfield Commission up until 2020.
Now, he’s looking to help lead the community and continue the progress already made since Hurricane Michael destroyed the town.
Curti said he’s not running against the current mayor, but he wants to be an option for the people of Springfield.
“I don’t make no plans to change anything,” Curti said. “He’s done a wonderful job. I appreciate all that Ralph has done. He’s worked hard, and I want to continue this and to be a part of Springfield and watch Springfield grow, and just get more involved with the people.”
Callaway Commission Ward 2 candidate David Griggs spoke at the forum, but his opponent, James Kirkland, did not attend the event.
There will be another League forum Tuesday night for Panama City Beach candidates at Arnold High School’s auditorium at 6 p.m.
Candidates will discuss their platforms and a number of city referendums.
Early voting starts Monday, April 11 and runs through Friday, April 15. Election Day is Tuesday, April 19.