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Wagner urges unity: Destin Mayor calls for unincorporated areas to annex into the city

Delivering his second annual State of the City address on Tuesday evening, Destin Mayor Bobby Wagner hailed 2023 as a year of “new strides and accomplishments” driven by city staff and […]

Delivering his second annual State of the City address on Tuesday evening, Destin Mayor Bobby Wagner hailed 2023 as a year of “new strides and accomplishments” driven by city staff and community partners before unveiling a vision to unify Destin by allowing unincorporated areas to vote on joining the city.

Speaking before the regular City Council meeting, Wagner spotlighted several recent staff hires, parks improvements, infrastructure upgrades and public safety initiatives that speak to a city “gaining momentum.” 

  • He credited cross-departmental staff collaboration on projects ranging from revitalizing the Destin History and Fishing Museum to launching high-speed fiber optic internet access via Live Oak.

The mayor praised city first responders, public works crews and emergency managers for prompt storm preparation and response during hurricane season. He also referenced progress on the long-planned Destin City Center mixed-use complex, including hiring a consultant to guide strategic land use planning across city property.

Wagner repeatedly returned throughout his 28-minute speech to calling out departments, staff members and community groups like the Main Street Betterment Alliance for “the extraordinary potential that arises when we move as one.”

But as the mayor drew his remarks to a close, he pivoted to issue a call for political unity by allowing nearby unincorporated areas to vote on joining Destin during its 40th anniversary year. About 3,235 voters around the city could help decide its “collective destiny,” Wagner said.

  • “I am very excited for this. I’ve been slowly talking to unincorporated Destin community members,” he revealed. “If there’s 3000 voters, that means there’s over 5,000 people that are not represented in the city limits.”

Wagner argued the capabilities have grown over Destin’s history to a point where unprecedented expansion is feasible. He pledged open communication with homeowners associations if the vote advances. The city council would have to approve adding a referendum to the the Nov. election ballot.

“My pledge to everyone is if we were able to do this, it would be open communication, just like I’ve always done. I can’t wait to go to each HOA, spread out the facts, the good, the bad, the positive and the challenges that we have in front of us,” the mayor said.

Beyond geographic reach, Wagner maintained that bringing more voices and diversity into the City’s decision-making would allow Destin to better plan for the future.

  • “Together, we have more diversity to allow this community to move forward into the future,” Wagner said. “I just think it’s now or never.”

The mayor closed by saying he had urged the Council to put the question of unification before area voters. He expressed openness to “building a future that reflects the aspirations and dreams of not just those inside the city limits.”

Wagner said he envisions the unified city “continuing to grow, to innovate and to thrive, charging a new course towards an even brighter tomorrow.”

If any individual would like to email Mayor Wagner their questions or concerns, you can reach him at: Bwagner@cityofdestin.com

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
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“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
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“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
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“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
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“Is there a limit on the amount?”
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“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
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“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
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“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”
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