The election season remains a few months away, but the race to be the next mayor of the city of Port St. Joe is already being cast.
A pair of public announcements last week indicated that when Election Day rolls around in early May, incumbent Mayor Bo Patterson will face a challenge from former commissioner Rex Buzzett,
There might be more candidates when May rolls around, but for right now, at least, Patterson and Buzzett is the field.
During a meeting of the City Commission last week, Patterson announced he would seek another term.
“I did a lot of soul searching,” Patterson said. “I decided I’d like one more term.”
Patterson will be seeking his third term as mayor after two prior terms as city commissioner.
“If I win another term I would be 10 years in office,” Patterson said. “There are a lot of people who depend on me.”
Days after Patterson’s announcement, Buzzett indicated that he would seek the office of mayor.
Buzzett ended a10-year tenure as a city commissioner a year ago.
Hurricane Michael was a determining factor.
“When the storm hit I wanted to be part of recovery back to where we were or even better,” Buzzett said.
Two other commission seats will be in play this spring.
Commissioner Eric Langston would be seeking a full two-year term after earning re-election to the appointed seat a year ago.
Commissioner David Ashbrook would also seek a new term.
Ashbrook and Langston have not signaled their plans.
Commissioners last week approved moving ahead with an ordinance which would eliminate paying a fee as the only way to qualify for a city election.
The city hopes to adopt a model similar to the county, which requires candidates to secure signatures from a certain percentage of the voting populace.
If not completed within a defined window, a candidate would have to pay a qualifying fee.
Commissioner Scott Hoffman, making a motion after recommendation from Patterson, said he did not want to disqualify any potential candidate due to the $500 qualifying fee.
In what surely will be the first of a long series, the city last week awarded contracts for repairs wrought by Hurricane Michael.
In this case, the city will spend $417,000 to repair 12 lift stations within the water/sewer infrastructure.
Paperwork has been submitted to the State Revolving Fund for disaster funding through the Department of Environmental Protection, with hopes of securing a grant/loan package to cover the costs.
However, the city still faces the costs of fixing the three largest lift stations in the city; at First Street, 20th Street and Oak Grove.
All are larger, more complex and more costly projects than the repairs to the other 12, all damaged during Michael.
The city has been considering methods of funding the First Street station repairs for some two years without success, the costs beyond the city’s means.
Solid waste collection
As the Board of County Commissioners finalized its next solid waste contract Tuesday, the city is still out to bid for its next contractor.
The county-adopted bid from BCC Waste Solutions included a price of $17.52 per month per customer to serve the city, including yard debris.
Under the current Waste Pro contract, which does not expire until the fall, city customers pay about $13 per month, but the city provides the yard debris pick-up.
A consideration for city officials is the loss of several employees in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which has eliminated the city’s ability to perform yard debris pick-up.