Florida City Government Week. My City: I’m Part of It, I’m Proud of It.

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“Reel Talk” from the City of Destin

City of Destin MayorBy Tamara Leigh Young, PhD, Public Information Manager for the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village

It’s time for more “reel” talk from the Mayor and me. This time, the City of Destin’s Mayor, Bobby Wagner, and I sat down and discussed our celebration of Florida Government Week.

TY: Every fall, cities around Florida celebrate municipal government. It’s the government that has the most direct daily impact upon residents in the community. This year, to celebrate, we set up meetings at Destin Middle School and Destin High School to share why local government is crucial and how young people can get involved. For the middle school, we focused on what they’d do if they could be Mayor. What were some of your favorite ideas?

BW: One idea that was great was to have a 4-day school week. I also thought it was sweet to hear Andreia Barcelos say she’d just want to make everyone happy. I wish I could do that! But mainly, I hope to see the playfulness and innocence they have never leave. You can have that playfulness and dream, and those ideas can still be valuable.

TY: When we were at the high school, we honed in on the importance of engagement and how teenagers can have an important voice in shaping our community. Particularly, you stressed involvement with the Destin Youth Council. How can high schoolers become a delegate and what could they expect from that experience if selected?

Destin City Government Week Mayor Wagner with StudentsBW: I want them to realize that government work doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. I want to encourage them to have a big impact, particularly at the local level. Age is just a number. It’s an easy application on our City website to apply to the Youth Council. One of the things I pushed to them is that at the end of the day, for Destin government, the magic number is four. Their great ideas are just four City Council votes away from becoming a reality. These students are going to be our next leaders. What better people than those right here to have direct access to City Council members and learn how to make a long-lasting impact!

TY: Florida Government Week is sponsored by the Florida League of Cities. On a more local level, with the Okaloosa County Leagues of Cities, I’ve enjoyed that group and found it beneficial for connections and sharing best practices. What are some ways you’ve worked with the larger cohort of Florida League of Cities?

BW: If I get anything done in Destin or our area, I can almost guarantee you I can tie it back to something or someone from Florida League of Cities. That group brings people together of all experiences. It gives me the opportunity to not reinvent the wheel, to ask questions, and to brainstorm with mentors. Knowledge is power, and me getting great information on what’s working elsewhere allows me to do better for Destin.

TY: This year’s Florida City Government Week theme is “My City: I’m Part of it, I’m Proud of it.” What are you most proud of when it comes to Destin?

BW: I’m proud of what got me involved with the nonprofit world from the beginning, how it shaped my business, and how supportive the community has been to me and others. We help each other navigate.


Middle School Answers to “What are You Most Proud of in your City?

“I am proud of the organization of sports and the opportunities that they give kids to build character, learn about sports, and give them something to look forward to every day.” – Lilly Miller, 6th grade

“The thing I’m most proud of in Destin is that people handle the tourism very well. Schools in Destin try their hardest to keep the students safe. The people from Destin are so nice that they will volunteer to help kids in almost anything.” – Dariel Rosado, 6th grade

“What I’m mostly proud of Destin is the beautiful beaches that I love to walk on. Destin has very good sports fields so people like me can play soccer or other sports. This city has good places to eat and visit. Some places that I go to eat are Chik-Fil-A, Olive Garden and McDonalds. Sometimes on the weekends, I go to eat there and the food is very good. Destin is the best city to live in because everything that I love is in this city.” – David Guzmán, 7th grade

“I am most proud of how everyone in our City is there for each other and how everyone knows everyone.” – Charley Hagood, 7th grade

“What I’m most proud of in my city is having a mayor that is 29 years old who has a bright, intelligent mind. Something else that I’m most proud of is being able to live in a part of Florida, experiencing and enjoying marvelous beaches with delicious places to get food. The friends and family that I’ve met living here have made me not want to leave this city. I am proud to be living in Destin, Florida.” – Aidan Woodard, 8th grade

“What I am most proud of in my city is the beautiful environment – the beaches and the cleanliness of the City. I am also very proud of the Destin community. The way we lift each other up, help each other in our troubles, and we are always there for one another. I am very proud of the churches in Destin, as they invite more and more people daily. I am so blessed to live in Destin.” – Aspen Baker, 8th grade