Dave Piech and Ray Eddington face off

In Santa Rosa County’s race for the District 4 seat, the incumbent Dave Piech faces a challenger Ray Eddington. The district covers the region of Navarre and Holley.

Piech, who won his seat for the first time in 2018told the News Journal that he was looking to move forward on long-term projects he had been working on for several years.

He cited his work to retain more than 500 acres of land near Eglin Air Force Baseget the Santa Rosa Strait Effluent and work through a feasibility study for the replacement of the Navarre beach bridge like some of the more expensive items he is currently working on.

Eddington moved to Florida with his wife four years ago from the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. Prior to his retirement, Eddington worked as a reserve officer for the city police department and for the Con-Way freight company, and he also held positions at U.S. Pipe and with Hamilton County Emergency Services. in Tennessee.

Now, Eddington said, with the county heading in what it thinks is the wrong direction, it wants to intervene.

Piech talks about the re-election campaign:Santa Rosa Commissioner and Navarre resident Dave Piech will be seeking re-election this year

Eddington jumps in race:Ray Eddington seeks seat on Santa Rosa commission to fix drainage, roads and zoning

“Right now it’s not going in the right direction because of all this building that’s going on. We have to slow it down. … Our infrastructure is so weak, and we have to put it back where you should be,” Eddington said. .

Eddington said his past roles, particularly in emergency management, helped prepare him for the role of commissioner.

“It will help me a lot. I know how to work on a budget. We had to do this. I know how to work with our services – EMS, police, fire,” Eddington said. “I can work with any of them. I know what they’re going through. I’ve been there.”

Piech, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel based at Hurlburt Field, said he also has his eye on continued stormwater and drainage improvements. He said he supported the approach of tackling multiple elements of a project at once.

Ray Eddington

“That’s kind of what I mean with the county, let’s not just look at one. Let’s just not look at the road, if we could do the road and the drainage, or the pedestrian access, or sidewalks or bike lanes,” Piech said. “So let’s wrap it all up in one project and do it once and be done with it.”

Eddington said he was focusing his approach on slowing the county’s growth in the interim so priority could be given to improving infrastructure.

“Every day I hear the same story: floods, we need to clean the ditches, we need to fix the roads. blank all that,” said Eddington.

On the question of the incorporation of Navarre, the two candidates apprehended the current push.

Santa Rosa County Commissioner Dave Piech, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, speaks during a roundtable with veterans and community leaders May 31 at the Navy Federal Credit Union in Pensacola.

“My job is to fight for Navarre and get the projects we need from the county. You know, infrastructure, stormwater and all that; I’m having success with that. We’re seeing more projects. We’re getting more funding for Navarre,” Piech said. “The (most recent incorporation) proposal I’ve seen, I think, didn’t adequately address infrastructure.”

Eddington is outright opposed to the community’s incorporation effort due to his concern about raising taxes on residents who would be part of that community.

Ray Eddington, left, talks to Chris McLean, treasurer of the Panhandle Butterfly House & Nature Center, following a March 22 ceremony to unveil the new Butterfly House outside St. Sylvester in Navarre.

“Let the county keep it as it is and deal with it instead of adding another government with more taxes,” Eddington said.

Looking to the future, when Eddington imagines himself as commissioner, he says he envisions a civil servant who treats everyone fairly.

“I won’t talk to (residents) at county meetings. You know, they get put down. … I don’t think it’s fair, talk to anybody, because nobody’s better than anybody” , Eddington said. . “We are all equal.”

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Piech said it was difficult to move forward with some of the projects he wanted, but now that he’s had some success, he “can’t go away until ‘He did not lock them in stone’.