BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Republican Party of Bay County hosted a debate for candidates running for various Florida state offices in 2022.

The event was held at Gulf Coast State College. Derrell Day moderated the debates.

The evening started with the two candidates for state representative.

Philip “Griff” Griffitts is currently a Bay County Commissioner and a Bay County native. He is up against a political newcomer from Alabama named Brian Clowdus.

Both candidates agreed that the state legislature should pass a constitutional carry law that Governor Ron DeSantis has said he would sign.

A question was also posed about the recent investigation into the corruption in Lynn Haven. The moderator asked if elected, how they will assure voters that they are making good use of their tax dollars.

“The main reason I am running is because I think corruption has plagued not only Bay County, not only our state but the entire country for far too long,” Clowdus said. “It is time that we have people who are not part of the system and I think it is great to say that you will not do this or not be part of this system but guess what? You are who you hang out with and based on who you are with and people being hand-picked for roles and nobody really campaigning in Bay County. It feels like people are kind of hand-picked for these roles and for me it doesn’t feel fair.”

But Griffitts hit back and said he has never been involved in any corruption.

“I’m very proud to say that over the six years I have been a commissioner my name has never once come up in these federal indictments,” Griffitts said. “I’m very proud of that. Also very proud to say I have Sheriff Ford’s endorsement. I don’t think the sheriff would endorse me if he thought for a second I was corrupt. Lynn Haven has problems. We know that. I will tell you every elected official in the state has to take a four-hour ethics class every year required by the state. Four hours. The first rule in that is you can’t take a gift from a vendor over 100 dollars. It’s real simple. It’s real simple. Those laws were violated in Lynn Haven and I think people are going to have to answer for them in the future.”

Commissioner Philip “Griff” Griffitts & Brian Clowdus

The state senate debate took place afterward, with current Florida Rep. Jay Trumbull going head to head with political newcomer and business owner Regina Piazza.

Both agreed that the government needs to have a stricter policy on the southern border.

“I think porous borders are probably one of the most significant things facing our country,” Trumbull said. “It’s more drugs. It’s more crime. Honestly, it burdens a little bit of our healthcare system. The fact of the matter is that we need to have a stronger border.”

Piazza took it a step further, getting very passionate about the subject.

“They’re sapping the life out of you and me,” Piazza said. “It’s why we are having the conversation about affordable and attainable housing. It’s why we are having the problems and the conversation about our kiss, our parents, our grandparents with Fentanyl use. Are you kidding me? And somebody’s going to ask about keeping our borders open? No.”

Rep. Jay Trumbull & Regina Piazza

Whoever wins the primary for state representative will take the seat.

But whoever gets the Republican nomination for state senator will advance to race against Democrat and Walton County resident Carolynn Zonia.