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Danny Smillie: Escambia County Commission Race District-5

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Danny Smillie is no stranger to the inner workings of Escambia County. He retired in 2014, after 30 years working a number of county jobs. During that time, he says he’s seen a lot of waste and abuse of funds during his time as a corrections officer and a bridge inspector in the county’s Road Division, the latter primarily in District-5. 

“We’ve got bridges that are 80, 90 years old,” says Smillie. “These columns are made for only 75 years, so we’ve run way over their limit. We have school buses, loaded down with kids, crossing [them].”

Another issue is the use of U.S. Highway 29 as a hurricane evacuation route to the north, which Smillie says is used by residents no matter where they live.

“There’s [sic] three areas in District-5 that flood on Highway 29 that are impassable,” Smillie says. “We had it several years ago. Nothing’s been done through the years.”

Another issue is the rebuilding of the Escambia County Jail’s Central Booking Facility, which exploded during a flood in April, 2014. 

“The commissioners down there now, they don’t get along and nobody’s pushing through to get anything done,” Smillie contends.” If you had a business and you couldn’t do anything for two years and four months [since the jail explosion], you would be bankrupt.”

District-5 is the largest district in Escambia County in area, reaching from Nine Mile Road to Century, then over to Atmore Road and the Santa Rosa County line. It’s also the furthest from the county courthouse in downtown Pensacola. 

If elected, Smillie says one of his first actions will be to open two offices in the district.

“One of the offices I want to put in the Cantonment area; already offices sitting there, they don’t cost anything to run it,” says Smillie. “The other is going to be up around Ernest Ward School off Atmore Highway. There’s a substation office that we pay water, power, and nobody uses it.”

The primary in District-5 is a so-called “universal” primary. Under Florida law, when all candidates running for an office are from one party – Smillie and incumbent Steven Berry are Republicans -- all voters can cast ballots regardless of party affiliation – since the election will be decided in the primary and not the later, general election.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.