CRESTVIEW — More than 60 residents now understand county commissioner and clerk of court candidates' platforms following a Wednesday forum.
Though interest in mid-term elections is not generally high, supervisor of elections Paul Lux said, North Okaloosa Republican Club members had to set out additional chairs for the forum.
Attendees, mostly senior citizens, tend to be regulars at such events and, as a result, are generally more informed than many younger voters, clerk of court candidate Dan Spence said.
“I’ve been around here since dirt,” multi-generation Baker resident Kendall Helms said. “Sometimes you’re afraid to vote because you think you’re voting for a change for the better and it gets worse.”
Low attendance now seems to be a regular occurrence at opportunities to meet candidates, “but it wasn’t that way before," Crestview area resident Harold Lafountain said.
Lux said because no Democratic Party candidates entered the fray, “these races will be over Aug. 26,” meaning the open primary election will determine who fills the vacancies in November.
Contesting incumbent County Commissioner Don Amunds — who couldn’t attend the forum due to a prior commitment — are attorney Trey Goodwin and business leader Henry Kelley.
Both men said addressing the county’s infrastructure should be priorities.
Kelley said improving drainage and paving north county roads will attract business. He cited, as an example, the condition of Fairchild Road, a dirt path that leads to L3 Crestview Aerospace. The quagmire deterred a major business from coming to Crestview after its executives arrived to tour the Bob Sikes Airport area in a rainstorm.
“There was nothing we could do when their car was sliding in the mud,” Kelley said.
Goodwin said addressing heavy afternoon traffic on State Road 85 will benefit both ends of the county, attracting both businesses and visitors.
“I’ve been to Crestview too many times at 4 o’clock and understand if you want to get from the Shoal River to the courthouse on time, you have to leave in plenty of time,” he said.
Moderator Cal Zethmayr of WAAZ/WJSB radio said the candidates at both forums did a good job of addressing the issues without denigrating their opponents.
JD Peacock and Spence, candidates for clerk of circuit court, presented their qualifications and stating their positions clearly, Zethmayr said.
“They were both very civil,” he said. “They’re both sharp candidates. They presented themselves well.”