In the span of a minute last Thursday Gov. Rick Scott filled several local seats open for months.

In the span of a minute last Thursday Gov. Rick Scott filled several local seats open for months.

Scott named David Rich to fill the Board of County Commissioners District 1 seat which had been vacant since the sudden August death of Freddie Whitfield, who passed from complications after heart surgery.

In addition, Scott filled one Port St. Joe Port Authority seat vacant since summer and a second Eugene Raffield was filling despite his term expiring.

Rich, 45, is the store manager at the family-owned IGA in Wewahitchka; his family has deep roots in the community.

He was selected from a group of applicants which also included Kenny Peak, Brian Cox, John Reeves and William “Tommy” Knox.

Rich was officially sworn in Tuesday during a special BOCC meeting.

“Mr. Freddie Whitfield and Mr. Tony Justice (who ran against Whitfield in 2016 and also passed away earlier this year) were both good friends and good customers of mine,” Rich said. “I thought I might be a good asset to the board, representing this district and the county.

“That is who I intend to represent, the district and the entire county.”

Rich has served on the board of the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Florida State University.

“I want to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars and be fiscally conservative while promoting growth,” Rich said.

Rich is appointed to what is effectively a one-year term.

Because Whitfield passed well shy of a year into his term, the District 1 seat must go on the ballot on the next general election, said Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon.

That will be next fall, therefore Rich’s term expires Jan. 2, 2019.

In November 2018, the District 1 seat will be contested with the winner securing a two-year term; the District 1 seat will return to its normal rotation and be in play again in 2020, when Whitfield’s original term expired.

Rich said he intends to run for the seat next year.

Patrick Farrell, 51, and Steve Newman, 52, both of Port St. Joe, were appointed by Scott to fill the Port Authority seats held by Jason Shoaf and Raffield.

Shoaf was appointed to the board of Triumph Gulf Coast in June; Raffield, who also holds the title of port director, was continuing to serve as the expiration of his term at the end of July.

Farrell is the owner of Gulf Coast Property Services and earned a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University.

His term expires July 27, 2021.

Newman is the owner of Big Fish Construction, LLC and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia.

His term ends July 20, 2021.