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Bobby Wagner will be one of Florida’s youngest mayors

Courtesy photo

The City of Destin has a new mayor and at 28-years-old he’s one of the youngest in Florida’s history.

Bobby Wagner defeated opponent Rodney Braden with 60% of votes. He shared the news of his win on Facebook with the message “It’s time to work.”

Wagner was appointed to Destin City Council last November as a temporary fill-in after the suspension of former councilwoman Prebble Ramswell. The year-long gig was just enough time for him to test the waters.

“It really hadn’t been my intent (to run for mayor),” said Wagner. “God’s definitely looking out for me. In that one-year term I really fell in love with every aspect of it.”

Wagner said he meditated on whether to run for a four-year term or for mayor, with Mayor Gary Jarvis opting not to run for reelection. The City of Destin operates under a council-manager form of government. Although he wouldn’t be voting on issues as he did as a councilmember, Wagner said he wanted to work on projects from the ground up.

“The city council is only as good as the projects they’re voting on,” he said. “I want to be a part of creating those projects.”

    Bobby Wagner on election night.
    Courtesy photo
    Bobby Wagner on election night.

    Wagner is a 20-year resident of Destin and a business owner. Previously, he was the president of the Destin-based beautification organization Trees on the Coast. He ran for mayor on the platform “Revive, Reclaim, Sustain.” He says his environmental advocacy helped shape his goals for the city, such as buying back beach property for public use.

    Among the top two priorities as mayor is helping to create a city center for the Main Street area where Publix has purchased 21 acres. Only about a third of the site would be used for a Publix-anchored shopping center and the remaining space could be a city center. Wagner said he wants the site to be the heart of Destin.

    Another priority is renovating the Morgan Sports Center to better support recreational activities for kids and adults.

    Wagner is also among of wave of young candidates running for office this year. In Florida’s 10th Congressional District, 25-year-old Democrat Maxwell Frost won the Orlando-based seatmaking him the first member of Generation Z elected to serve in U.S. Congress.

    Being the youngest is something Wagner embraces. And he wants to be supportive and share tools to shape the next generation of leaders.

    “I want to give back what I have been given,” he said. “And I want the new generation to grab the baton and run forward with new ideas. It’s a lot of work and hustle, but it’s worth it.”

    Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.