While District 4 County Commissioner Rob Williamson held an invitation-only meet and greet with supporters at Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors’ Grill early Monday morning, residents of Navarre stood outside in the rain waving signs calling for the incumbent to be ousted from office.
Williamson is seeking re-election to the commission seat representing the Navarre area against candidate Dave Piech on the Aug. 28 primary ballot.
A reporter from the Navarre Press was turned away from the event by Williamson.
“This is an invite-only event. We paid for this room,” he said.
Roughly 30 people were seen entering the meeting including zoning board members Colton Wright and James Calkins, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station Director Charlene Mauro, Pirates on the Panhandle President Jerry Foster, Navarre Newspaper blogger Randy Meredith and Community Life Church Lead Pastor Scott Veroneau.
While the topics of discussion inside the re-election rally were not made public, the eight protesters out front expressed concern over widespread growth without sufficient infrastructure and frequent exceptions to the land development code, including variances allowing for increased density.
Protester Linda Young held an umbrella over her head as she stood along the side of the road with a sign reading “Dump Williamson, not sewage.”
“Williamson has shown repeatedly that he does not understand the connection between new development and proper infrastructure to support it,” she said. “I think we need someone in this seat–especially in Navarre, which is growing so incredibly quickly–that will assure that as we grow and develop we have the proper infrastructure in place to protect our health and safety and our water quality.”
Nancy Forester said increased land rezoning and variances to the land development code have caused growing problems.
“I understand that Rob Williamson is meeting with some developers, and I am concerned that so many developers have donated to his campaign fund and seem to have him in their pocket,” she said. “I would think, when it comes time for him to approve stuff, he has received so much money from them that he would tend to lean toward whatever the developers want.”
Currently Williamson’s campaign donations consist of $29,950 from developers and those with development projects now in the works in the county, according to self-reported numbers with the Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Office.
Marilyn Elle said she felt that Williamson had deprioritized green space for the sake of development.
“I am out here because I care about the community we live in and the ecology and keeping some green space for our families. Williamson is definitely not for that. He is all about the dollars,” she said.
Protester Nita Radominski agreed, pointing to issues along Whispering Pines Boulevard.
“They have slipped so many things under the table (affecting) what is going on over there,” she said. “We can’t walk down the street. There is no infrastructure there. No place for the children to go. Nothing.”
Forester said she and her fellow protesters were standing in the rain to hold Williamson accountable.
“I want anyone who is running for office or in charge of the zoning board, I want them to know we are watching,” she said. “We can’t allow things to be sneaked by us.”
As seen in the July 5 issue of Navarre Press. Click here to subscribe for as little as $38 per year!