A group of Santa Rosa County residents want to rename the Navarre Beach Causeway after President Donald Trump.
During the public forum at the Dec. 10 Santa Rosa County Commissioners meeting, resident Sam Mullins asked the board to consider discussing the idea of renaming the bridge and even voting on it at the next meeting in January, which the board decided against.
“I’m not prepared to bring this to an agenda item,” said Chairman Dave Piech. “This is a big decision on a bridge that needs to be replaced in the next eight to 10 years. I’m not closing the door to it … but I personally feel this county has a lot more issues to deal with right now.”
Newly-elected commissioner James Calkins said he heard from other citizens about the grassroots movement to rename the bridge after the outgoing president. The day before the meeting, he polled followers in his Facebook group asking “Would you be in favor of renaming the Navarre Beach Bridge to the Donald J. Trump Bridge?” There were 41 votes in favor and 13 votes against it. One vote from former State Rep. Mike Hill was for renaming it “Calkins Causeway.” A few comments on Facebook suggested naming it after a local figure or the 11 soldiers that died in the 2015 Black Hawk crash.
Mullins said he was for renaming the bridge after Donald Trump “in recognition of this things he’s done for our county” and made note that Santa Rosa County voted in his favor on Election Day. According to the Supervisor of Elections, 72% of voters voted for Trump.
“He’s bringing back home our sons and daughters (from Afghanistan and Iraq), he’s made our country energy-independent, rebuilt the economy, brought jobs back from China and stood for life,” Mullins said.
A few other residents backed up Mullins. Pace resident Cindy Hall, who was speaking on behalf of others and herself, called it the “Donald J. Trump Causeway Cause.”
Piech said he didn’t want to put the issue on the January agenda and overload county staff with emails over the holiday, but said it would be discussed within the first quarter.
“The president’s not going anywhere,” he said. “It’s a topic you don’t just put out there and put on a Facebook poll.”
Other commissioners agreed to wait. As a Trump supporter, Bob Cole said he liked the idea but “couldn’t support it right now.”
“It’s a big decision,” he said. “I voted and supported President Trump. I hate the way things turned out. I think he got screwed, but I agree (to wait).”
Calkins also agreed to wait and said he’d like to hear from more citizens.
“I don’t think it’s an idea we should kill,” he said. “As far as not wanting to deal with controversial issues, that’s what we were elected to do. Trump is a controversial president but he’s done more for this country than anybody. Let’s give it a shot (and) be willing to put it on the agenda in the future.”
Calkins and Mullins have worked together on other initiatives in Santa Rosa County such as organizing a Second Amendment Rally at the beginning of the year and working together on the county’s Pro-Life Sanctuary Resolution, which was approved by voters in November.
Calkins did not return requests for further comment.