The City Of Destin Has A New Mayor
Known as the “luckiest” fishing village in the world, the city of Destin has a new mayor: Scott Fischer. A week into his term wes poke about his path his path to city hall and the challenges facing the town.
This stint as mayor is just the latest turn for Fischer. He spent 40 years in the newspaper busine beginning in his hometown of Clovis, New Mexico and including stops locally, “I think I was about 27-28 year old, when I became publisher of the Playground Daily News in Fort Walton Beach.”
Today, that paper is called the Northwest Florida Daily News.
The newspaper business took him to Panama City and then out west to California and Colorado, where he eventually retired. But, while in Colorado Springs he added law enforcement to his resume, “I became the oldest graduate of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Academy. And, primarily worked homicides for eight years, became infamous in the law enforcement business. We got a fellow to confess to forty six murders and they wrote two books about our team.”
***That fellow was Robert Charles Browne, who is currently serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison.
Now, as the Mayor of Destin, Fischer is focused on managing the growth of the community, with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. This includes the potential development of a by-pass in the area, “We’re on a narrow inlet and almost the entire city is developed, probably 92% of it is developed. And there’s no place to put a major highway that you can drive 40-50 mph through Destin. And unfortunately about 70-80% of our traffic are people driving through Destin.”
Nevertheless, Mayor Fischer says as the amount of traffic to the area increases, the city needs to have the infrastructure to support it. And, the congestion is not just on the roadways, “Development of large high rise condos concerns me for the same reason. The stress they put on roads and our facilities. We’ll never go back to what Destin was twenty years ago, or thirty years ago. I mean it’s always going to go forward; it’s always going to get bigger and better. But, at the same time I don’t want to lose that history and that culture of Destin.”
Additionally, Fischer says one of his goals as the new mayor of Destin is to explore ways to streamline operations, to get the most ‘bang for the buck,’ “I think if we could combine services and develop more efficiency in our governmental operations that would increase the benefit to the tax payer and may keep their bills down. But, that’s going to require the city and the county, the various fire departments, ambulance services. All trying to find a more efficient way to manage, having a fire chief in every segment of the county seems awfully inefficient to me. A consolidated fire department might serve the citizens better.”
At this point, consolidation is an idea that Fischer would like to study. And, as he settles into the job, he’s hearing from residents, including some with concerns about the growing problem of homelessness in Destin, “I have some folks that live in an area where virtually a homeless camp has been set up behind them. I’m afraid that most of them are older than I am and are widows and they have legitimate concerns. They are really worried about these homeless camps that go through their yards and down to the centers that offer free food or clothing or whatever.”
It has not been lost on Fischer that many of the city’s homeless are veterans. He says he’s not sure what the answer is, but, he’s looking forward to coming up with solutions that work for everyone.
Mayor Fischer as well as other newly elected members of the Destin City Council were sworn in on March 21st. Their first meeting was on Monday. The next city council meeting is April 18th at 6 p.m. at the City Hall Annex.