Talk show host to moderate July 10 Santa Rosa Commission candidate debate

Posted on June 4, 2018 by Staff reports

Leading up to the August 28 primary election, the Greater Navarre Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a July 10 debate among county commission candidates.

“We have invited all County Commissioner candidates who appear on the primary ballet for a forum and debate,” stated Chamber CEO TJ Goulet.

According to Goulet, the debate format will be a general question period where each candidate will be given the same question and have one minute to respond. “The questions will cover general topics about candidates’ background and qualifications and positions on key issues for our county,” he said.

Some potential topics to be covered include:  taxation & spending, infrastructure, jobs & economic development, tourism, zoning & variances and the military.

“We will also have a second segment where questions submitted by the audience for specific candidates will be asked with the candidate having one minute to answer and opponents having 30 seconds to respond. These questions will be more specific to the candidate’s district or personal position,” Goulet said.

In addition to the debate, candidates were also invited to set up 30 minutes prior to and after the debate to provide information about their campaign and answer questions directly with attendees.

The debate will be moderated by Mike Bates, a talk-show host at 1330 AM WEBY. The event will be broadcast live on Facebook and also recorded for playback.

“The Greater Navarre Area Chamber of Commerce does not endorse any candidate in any election. Our goal with this debate is to provide our membership and community with an opportunity to hear directly from the Candidates and to ask questions that interest them,” Goulet said.

During this year’s election cycle, incumbents Commissioner Bob Cole, who represents District 2 (East Milton and Milton area) and Commissioner Rob Williamson, who represents District 4 (Navarre) are up for re-election.

Cole is facing two fellow Republicans in the primary election – Tammy Jo Brown and Wallis L. Mahute.

As of April, Cole had raised $23,650. Brown and Mahute raised $3,925 and $1,012, respectively.

The winner of the District 2 primary will face Kristopher D. Long (NPA) in the November 6 general election. Long has raised $3,480.

Williamson has just one challenger, political newcomer David Piech. Both candidates are Republican, so the winner of the District 4 race will be decided in the August 28 primary election.

Williamson raised $90,459.01, and Piech raised $20,770.36 as of April.

Campaign financial reports for the month of May will be released next week.

Event tickets for the July 10 debate are free but required to attend. Tickets are available via


The debate will begin at 6 p.m. and take place at the Navarre Conference Center, located at 8700 Navarre Parkway. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.