Four candidates vie for Panama City Beach Ward Three seat

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - In a couple of months, Panama City Beach residents will cast ballots for the four qualifying candidates in the Beach City Council Ward Three race.

Councilwoman Josie Strange currently holds the seat, but has reached her term limit. We spoke to each candidate about their plans if they win.

"I want to fully staff the police department. According to the city manager, the police department is 50 percent understaffed," Candidate Burnie Thompson said. "There's no way we can stop crimes and keep public safety with a police department that's only 50 percent staffed."

Thompson says he would also like to audit City Hall.

"No more having to pay thousands of dollars for public records requests to find out how one company got a contract over another company," Thompson said.

"We're gonna address taxation. I believe that we need to stop spending so much," Colleen Swab, candidate for ward three said. "I believe that there are safety issues and concerns that I've heard a lot of voters, they're not real happy with, but those are the things I'd like to address."

Swab says she's been in business in Panama City Beach for decades. "The traffic concerns that's a big issues. [Voters] are concerned with the public safety, the roads are a big thing."

"Traffic's a big thing that impacts all of our citizenry and so getting Back Back Beach Road looped in is gonna be really critical," Geoff McConnell, candidate for ward three race said, "and I want to champion that going forward to help us not sit an hour in our car every day trying to get home and back from work."

McConnell also mentioned wanting to build a better place to live for his sons.

"Public safety is a big key for us. We want to make sure the police department has enough funding and have enough personnel to get out and be able to do some community policing in our neighborhood," McConnell explained.

"Everybody wants to talk about Spring Break and you know, I would like to maintain a safe, family-oriented Spring Break and bring back families and entertainment and things to go on here that needs to be for people to come and enjoy themselves," Skip Stoltz, candidate running for ward three said. "I think I can do that."

Stoltz said he's a local helping locals.

"[I've] been helping the Beach area for 16 years, supporting all the people on the Beach and their businesses and we do a lot of great work for the Beach now and want to continue to do great things for the Beach," Stoltz said.

The election for Municipal Super Tuesday will be April 17th.