A slew of topics were covered from budgetary matters to Leave No Trace.


The Mexico Beach mayoral debate on Monday, hosted by the Bay County League of Woman Voters, saw the two candidates, incumbent Tom Bailey and former mayor Al Cathey, square off at the Mexico Beach Civic Center.

A slew of topics were covered from budgetary matters to Leave No Trace.

Budget priorities

Cathey stated that his priority was infrastructure, stating that his priority while he was mayor was keeping what the city had in good shape.

“The simple things are what are important,” Cathey said.

Bailey said he is very fiscally conservative and that his priority rested in keeping the general fund healthy.

Water and sewer rates

The moderator from the Bay County League of Woman Voters stated from study of water and sewer rates of Northwest Florida that it was found that Mexico Beach’s rates for service were too low to maintain a healthy reserve. Asked whether they preferred raising rates or instituting a service fee, both candidates had similar answers.

Bailey supported a service availability fee using the analogy of a cell phone. He stated that even if you didn’t use your phone you still had a bill and said the city was no different.

Cathey also supported a type of fee.


Ask if it were feasible that the city continued twice a week, back door pickup the candidates had similar views.

Cathey stated that the back door policy is greatly appreciated by those in Mexico Beach and wondered why it had been changed.

He also stated that those in the city want a clean city and that he would never stop twice weekly service.

Bailey noted that while the council had tried to change sanitation service to curbside and lowered to once weekly pick up during the winter that the results and feedback had reversed the council’s stance on the matter.

“We did not save the amount of money we were looking for, and we’ve already gone back to two days a week,” Bailey said. “I can promise you, as long as I am mayor, we will never go back to less than two days a week again. It’s just not worth the effort.”

BP money

When asked about the proposed money that should be coming to Mexico Beach and what he would like to see that money spent on, Cathey stated that he would like to replace the current pier with a concrete one. He said the pier in Mexico Beach is unique and adds value to the community.

Bailey was hesitant to plan on the money coming in stating that with the levels of government over Mexico Beach that the process can get complicated.

He did say that plans are already under way to discharge the water that comes out of the 8th Street canal further out into the water.

He believes that the project will create an artificial reef at the end of the discharge and also stop the staining of the beach.


When speaking on the Farmdale development Bailey stated that the city has provided the development with water and sewer service because it falls into Mexico Beach’s service area.

On speaking to fire and police coverage, Bailey stated that negotiations have yet to take place and when they do Mexico Beach will seek the tax money that the development will be giving Bay County.

Cathey stated that he would’ve gone after annexation before any agreement was signed and was disappointed in not seeing the developers at public meetings.

Leave No Trace

Both candidates publically admitted that they did not vote for the Leave No Trace referendum.

Cathey said the vote was an over-reaction to busy holiday weeks, and that a trashy beach wasn’t the norm.

While Bailey personally voted against the referendum, and believes that the public was unaware of what they were voting for, he stated that since the referendum was passed by the citizens he will do his best to enforce it.