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High stakes and hijinks in District 4 election

| SR Press Gazette
In the ring are Commissioner Dave Piech and Ray Eddington. Am I happy about all the decisions Piech has made during his tenure? No sycophant, I have gone head-to-head with the BOCC at the podium regarding Elevate Navarre’s 322 apartments (which has been adjusted to about 280), hotel and the added traffic problems. Originally intended […]

In the ring are Commissioner Dave Piech and Ray Eddington. Am I happy about all the decisions Piech has made during his tenure? No sycophant, I have gone head-to-head with the BOCC at the podium regarding Elevate Navarre’s 322 apartments (which has been adjusted to about 280), hotel and the added traffic problems.

Originally intended to provide more retail and prevent traveling east or west for retail shopping, fine dining and entertainment, COVID upended movie theater and bowling alley businesses nationwide and quashed that vision.

Folks are understandably angry, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater? It’s nonproductive once introduced to the facts.

Prudent employers scrutinize applicants. This is no different. Piech is a known quantity. He shows up. When folks wondered why Eddington wouldn’t attend a recent debate in Holley, he posted a typed letter saying he had other engagements. No response from him in last week’s issue of the Navarre Press on his platform either. So the district he’s from and running in gets dissed – deprived of knowing more about him? And if playing hide-and-seek doesn’t give you pause, he obtains his campaign guidance from the north part of the county.

How about if I told you that Eddington’s advisor divulged to me that he secured the write-in candidate to close the August primary, knowingly precluding 41% of the electorate from voting? So the District 4 race has already been manipulated once. Will you be manipulated twice?

Social media barrages against Piech, fomenting an anti-incumbent wave are promoting the most destructive choice, designed to “cancel” Navarre.

Recall the fight over the East Milton Wellfield Protection Area two years ago? Piech and Commissioner Colten Wright stood vehemently against the expansion of dirt pits which might contaminate our public water supply. I helped lead strong public backlash which turned the tide because they stood to be outvoted 3-2. The assault on the wellfield area is coming up again Nov. 10 in a series of public hearings.

Do we want this to be 4-1 vote because Eddington’s allegiance is elsewhere?
He doesn’t regularly attend or speak at BOCC and zoning meetings, all foundational learning opportunities. Yes, he’s a nice man and says he loves this county, but more substance is required for this complex job.

In contrast, Piech assumed office in 2018, and immediately desired to get the effluent out of the Navarre Sound. Maggi Roberts and I assembled a large District 4 Citizens Task Force, working feverishly on water quality, impact fee research and land development code updates which culminated in obtaining funding for the $20-million Eglin RIBS project.

The 545-acre conservation area was conceived at my dining-room table and Piech orchestrated negotiations between the developer and the Trust for Public Land, and together we substantiated the need for matching county funding. Configuration for this much-needed passive recreation in Navarre requires Piech’s continued focus in making this a reality.

It was Piech who surfaced the need for replacement and relocation of the Navarre Bridge and he will oversee the budgeting and repair of the failing sea walls on the Navarre Causeway. Realizing Navarre residents desired more of a choice in garbage service, he recently voted to allow Adams Sanitation a permit to operate here.

He has established unique relationships with myriad agencies as an appointee, representative or chair for future projects: FDOT, Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base, Perdido-Escambia Bay Estuary Program, Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization, Emerald Coast Regional Planning Council, our Tourist Development Council, Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization, BOCC Restore Council, Local Mitigation Strategy Taskforce and many more. Piech’s efforts have resulted in substantial projects in Navarre: Edgewood Drive improvements, $8 million for Tom King Bayou channel restoration, $5 million for East Bay Boulevard storm culverts, beach improvements and half of the existing dirt roads have been paved.

The possible U.S. 98-Florosa Bypass would serve to alleviate some of the congestion emanating from Hurlburt and extending into Navarre. Piech’s corporate knowledge and irreplaceable connections ensure Navarre will thrive now and into the future. All of this unfinished business and more will be lost on a newbie’s learning curve.

Our quality of life is at stake. Navarre’s future is in your hands. Show up and choose wisely.
Carmen Reynolds is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel with a background in criminology and law enforcement, administration, computers/communications and teaching. A former Zoning Board member and Holley-Navarre fire commissioner, she works tirelessly for the Navarre community and to better Santa Rosa County.



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