In an already crowded field of candidates, County Commissioner Don Salter filed Jan. 15 to run for re-election as representative for the northern most portion of the county.
Salter, a retired Gulf Power district manager and Army veteran, has served as commissioner for district 3 continuously since 2000.
During that time, he championed protection of Naval Air Station Whiting Field from encroachment, contributing to what is now called “The Navy Model” of base protection.
“I filed to finish many of the projects we have been working on for years, the courthouse and Whiting Aviation Park,” Salter said in a phone interview Monday.
He said seeing the new courthouse’s construction to completion is critical. The aviation park has also seen recent success with the announcement of a new tenant to perform helicopter maintenance and a potential training facility in the works.
Salter said a top priority will be addressing the county’s ailing infrastructure including roads and drainage. But he said that will likely take funding, and he said the county does not have enough to meet those needs currently.
The commissioners are currently awaiting the results of a study into the amounts allowable for a potential impact fee. After a new sales tax failed to pass last year, Salter said voters spoke loudly saying they would support the sales tax if and only if an impact fee was passed.
“Impact fees are another potential source of limited revenue,” Salter said. “But a sales tax is the only way we are going to be able to address the enormous infrastructure needs we have.”
The district 3 commissioner race is currently the most crowded candidate field with five candidates in the running.
Among Salters opponents is Jerry Couey, a frequent voice in public hearings in the county. Couey has established his platform under the message of no new taxes and has regularly accused county officials of needless spending.
Another familiar face among the candidates for district 3 is James Calkins who previously served a contentious term on the board of directors for Holley Navarre Water System before resigning to move out of Navarre. He later became a member of the county’s volunteer Zoning Board before the entire board was fired in October 2019 for allegedly speaking and voting against citizens.
Other candidates for district 3 are Ryan Adkins and Gage Schlegel. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 18.