League of Women Voters of Okaloosa and Walton Counties
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2019 DeFuniak Municipal E-Voter2019 DeFuniak Springs City Council

Seat 1
Seat 2
Seat 3

Welcome

City residents have many choices to make this year, as there is a challenger for each of the City Council incumbents who are up for re-election. Unfortunately, the DeFuniak Herald and Walton Sun have not published anything about the DeFuniak Springs municipal election. We will add links if/when such articles become available. In addition to candidate responses to our survey, League is providing links to each candidate’s campaign or Facebook campaign websites, if available, as well as to the Candidate Statements provided to the Walton County Supervisor of Elections, if applicable. Use the quick links above to navigate to each race.

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Seat 1

Todd Bierbaum is challenging incumbent Janie Griffith, who is seeking her second term. Since neither candidate responded to our candidate survey, please use the links provided to compare them.

Seat #1 Candidates
Todd Bierbaum
Todd Bierbaum
Facebook Page
Candidate Statement
Janie Griffith
Janie Griffith
Facebook Page
Candidate Statement

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Seat 2

Robert McKnight is challenging two-term incumbent Kermit Wright, who recently came under fire for some impolitic Facebook comments. Don’t forget to use the link to check out the Candidate Statements.

Seat #2 Candidates
  Robert McKnight
Robert McKnight
Candidate Statement
Kermit Wright
Kermit Wright
Candidate Statement

What do you see as the top issues affecting DeFuniak Springs in the next four years?

• Rise in water and sewer bills.
• Rapid growth in traffic on Hwy 331 and Hwy 90.
• Restoring confidence in City Hall.
• Stagnant population.
• Stagnant economic vitality.

No response received as of 3 March.

Why do you want to serve on the DeFuniak Springs City Council and why are you the best choice?

I have witnessed the disfunction at City Hall. I possess the talent, problem-solving skills , and education to restore confidence in city government.

 

If elected/re-elected, what is your top priority for your term?

Three priorities of equal importance:
• Be a good listener;
• Ask lots of questions; and
• Make good decisions.

 

What are your qualifications for office?

• Retired college professor
• Masters and Doctorate in Public Health
• Vice Chair of the DeFuniak Springs Economic Development Committee
• Coordinated the City’s long-range economic development plan

 

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Seat 3

For Seat #3 city residents must choose between the challenger, local businessman and community booster Kevin Crystal, and two-term incumbent Ron Kelley.

Seat #3 Candidates
  Kevin Crystal
Kevin Crystal
Candidate Statement
Ron Kelley
Ron Kelley
Candidate Statement

What do you see as the top issues affecting DeFuniak Springs in the next four years?

Economic Resiliency & Smart Growth
We must maintain a common-sense approach to growth with a focus on the preservation of community values. This can be accomplished by thoughtful consideration of:

• Job creation that will provide a livable wage for our families
• Pursuing private/public partnerships to develop workforce housing
• Infrastructure needs
• Compatibility of land uses for development opportunities
• Safe transportation alternatives for (pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles)
• Impeccable recreational facilities
• Protecting and capitalizing on our historical district and environment

Workforce Housing
Quality housing that is affordable is one of the greatest challenges faced by our residents. We must create additional housing that allows our workforce—teachers, nurses, law enforcement, emergency personnel, etc.—to live within the means of their salaries and maintain a desirable quality of life.

Fiscal Responsibility
How we spend tax payer dollars is critical to the health of DeFuniak Springs. We must provide great city services while keeping taxes and fees balanced with  those services. DeFuniak Springs should be and can be a financially strong and resilient city if we will work together with our county, state and federal partners.

No response received as of 3 March.

Why do you want to serve on the DeFuniak Springs City Council and why are you the best choice?

Having grown up in the city of Defuniak Springs and having been back here for the last decade, I have a strong desire to play a part as a public servant in ensuring Defuniak Springs’ future. We must ensure we have a stable City government in order to have a resilient City. I can be a positive, cooperative force to this end. Most importantly, I want to ensure there is a future for our young people so they may remain in our City. We must lay the ground work now, so that our City remains prosperous in the years to come.

I am the best choice for Defuniak Springs City Council, Seat #3, for three simple reasons:

1) I know what it takes to do the hard work. I’ve had to do that in my own life and I’m prepared to work hard for the people of Defuniak Springs.
2) I believe in this City. We have all the necessary assets to grow our City into a more resilient  community and I have the background and experience to know how to put those assets to work for us. Most importantly, I understand that in order to attract new business and new
jobs, we must have a stable City government.
3) This City belong to you. I firmly believe that and I’m prepared to be a true representative of our community, serving you in a professional and cooperative manner.

 

If elected/re-elected, what is your top priority for your term?

My top priority will be working together with our county, state and federal partners to make DeFuniak Springs the financially strong and resilient city it has the potential to be.

 

What are your qualifications for office?

Council members must understand the responsibilities/duties of the position and be concerned with conduct of daily affairs and future development. Council responsibilities include:

• Managing the city’s financial operations
• Providing community leadership
• Protecting the welfare of the city and its inhabitants

My understanding of these and other responsibilities, plus my education and service to our community and region over the last decade, have prepared me for service as your City Councilman.

Government and Association Appointments
• Design Review Board, Walton County Florida (2017-Present)
• Planning Board, City of DeFuniak Springs, 2013 to Present (Chairman 2017-2019)
• Commercial Builders Council, Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties 2015 to 2016 (Chairman 2015-2016)
• Technology Advisory Board – Emerald Coast Technical College (2009-Present)

Education
• Bachelor of Science, Project Management, NWFSC
• MBA, Liberty University
• Doctoral Candidate Business Administration, Walden University
• Licensed Real Estate Agent, Florida & Alabama
• Professional Property Management Certification
• Certificate of Completion (Entrepreneurial Planning), United States SBA
• Certificate of Completion (Event Planning), UWF

Community
• Volunteer/Program Instructor, Florida Department of Corrections Re-Entry Program (2012–Present)
• Volunteer/Program Instructor, Federal Bureau of Prisons-Federal Correctional Institution Marianna (2016–Present)
• Member, Kiwanis International-DeFuniak Springs (2018–Present)
• Family and Advisory Sciences Committee, University of Florida/IFAS, Walton County (2012–2016)
• Volunteer/Program Instructor-Inside Out Dad, Evidence-Based Program for Incarcerated Fathers, Walton County Detention Center (2014–2016)
• VP, Lions Clubs International, DeFuniak Springs (2013–2014)
• Economic Development/Events Committee, City of DeFuniak Springs (2012–2013)
• VP of Membership, Lake DeFuniak Toastmasters Club (2011–2012)
• BUILD Program Grant Administrator (Job Training for Non-Custodial Ex-Offenders) (2010–2011)

 

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