New mayors in opposite ends of Santa Rosa

Spirited elections in mayor’s races were won by David Landfair in Gulf Breeze and Heather Lindsay in Milton on Tuesday.

Both newly minted mayors said they are humbled by their victories and plan to dig in quickly on addressing community issues.

Landfair, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and JROTC instructor at Gulf Breeze High School said, “My priorities are stormwater, stormwater, stormwater and transparency, transparency, transparency.”

Lindsay, a lawyer who resigned as Milton City Attorney earlier this year to run for mayor, said, “We need to get to work on the city’s economy, not just for downtown but all of Milton.”

Landfair won with 55 percent of 3,519 votes cast in Gulf Breeze to defeat Patty Burke in her first bid for elected office. Landfair has been on the city council for eight year and his campaign capitalized on name recognition and the electorate majority’s apparent satisfaction on the direction the municipality has taken.

Burke, who represented a considerable call for change in Gulf Breeze, told the Navarre Press she doesn’t rule out challenging Landfair again in 2020 as his two-year term reaches a close: “A lot of candidates aren’t successful the first time. It’s too early to make a decision about that but it’s something I will think about.”

Burke received 45 percent of the votes: 1,582.

Landfair will succeed attorney Matt Dannheisser, who decided not to run for re-election.

Lindsay defeated Wesley Meiss, a school teacher who was elected in 2014 over 20-year mayor Guy Thompson. Lindsay garned 1,889 votes, or 54 percent of those cast.

Meiss didn’t return a reporter’s calls on Wednesday but Lindsay said he had phoned her on Tuesday night with congratulations. “I consider Wes a friend. He was my son’s history teacher, and he’s a great teacher.”

Shaking the status quo image

Both Landfair and Lindsay had to persuade some  voters that they don’t represent politics-as-usual.

Some of Burke’s supporters labeled Landfair as bearing some responsibility for several issues he acknowledges that the city faces: too much litigation and high legal bills, persistent stormwater problems five years after the torrential rain and flooding of 2014 and the lingering question of how to pay off the $6 million in debt created Gulf Breeze’s purchase of Tiger Point Golf Club in 2012.

Meanwhile, an operational review of the city’s finances and policies by the Florida Auditor General’s Office has been underway since last spring. The results could be critical of government practices during Landfair’s tenure on the council.

But Landfair was conciliatory on Wednesday despite Burke’s taking a change-is-needed approach: “My opponent did an outstanding job and executed a masterful campaign. It’s not easy and they did a great job.”

In Milton, Lindsay overcame being painted by some Meiss supporters as part of the city’s “old guard.” She is identified by many with Thompson, and her father, Allen Lindsay Jr., was Milton’s attorney from 1977 to 1983.

Both Landfair and Lindsay promised to reach out to voters who hadn’t supported them.

Landfair has acknowledged that some Gulf Breeze residents have complained that they weren’t treated with courtesy when speaking at council meetings. He has vowed the meetings under him will be “collegial.”

Lindsay said one her strengths “Is that I’m a good listener. And I will consider all sides.”

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