Bay County Commission District 5 Candidates - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Bay County Commission District 5 Candidates

Posted: Updated:
Mike Thomas Mike Thomas

Brian Rust, Jr.
No Party Affiliation



My qualifications primarily come from my life experiences, along with a healthy common sense and not being part of the political system.  So many candidates will say their years of experience in office qualify them to be elected or re-elected but honestly we see more and more corruption and/or disregard for the purpose they were put in office from life time career politicians.  I worked for twenty two years in an industry that lives and dies by the ability or inability to understand what the people want, along with my years of seeing the successes and failures of local governments from around the county gives me a unique qualification to be County Commissioner.  I am "We The People".  It is time for our government to be returned to the power of the people and not the select few.  I believe in the people of and the future of Bay County.

3 Main Campaign Points:

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (otherwise put JOBS): #1 Priority
This is my number one priority. I promise you, as your County Commissioner, I will not rest until we all have the best opportunity for both business and JOBS. The latest unemployment numbers for June 2012 shows a drop in the unemployment rate here in Bay County to 7.7%, which is down a full point from the previous report. However, what is not taken into consideration with this number is just how many of them are temporary summer jobs or the number of people that are no longer eligible for unemployment benefits and are no longer counted. We need to start getting careers here in Bay County and not just temporary seasonal jobs. We can do this by working together with local business owners and entrepreneurs to find what is and isn't working for them and fix it. In speaking with many of them already, I have put together a plan that will get Bay County on track to a strong future with careers and new business. Together we can make this difference

Look over the county budget or just pay attention to items that the current commission approves and it won't take long to realize just how much waste there is. Three very good examples would include the Redpine venture at $350,000, the property purchase of Barefoot Palms Development at $2.9 million, or the Incinerator and its poor management. As your County Commissioner, and, therefore, the caretaker of your tax dollars, I will as promise to spend wisely and only on projects that will benefit Bay County and not a pocket full of cronies. And Tourism is one of our top industries here in Bay County and needs to be treated as such. The industry includes many different kinds of businesses and thousands of jobs. As your Commissioner, I will keep a very watchful eye on the TDC and the spending it approves. I will also be very mindful of the consequences the decisions both the TDC and the BCC make. All while keeping in mind the need to keep PCB as Family Friendly as possible.

Bus service in Bay County can help with both successful tourism and growth. Our current system of the Bay Town Trolley is one of the most poorly run transportation services I have ever seen. I am a big supporter of public transportation and wish to see ours, here in Bay County, be top notch, while also running efficiently. An excellent transportation system that works together with the tourism district of the beach and the rest of the populated areas of Bay County can lead to safer roads during Spring Break and the rest of the season, and will also help lift some of the burden many of the service industry staff have with getting to work.


Mike Thomas
17554 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, FL 32413


For the past 8-years, I've been proud to serve as your District 5 Bay County Commissioner. With the help of my fellow Commissioners, I've worked to ensure that Bay County continues to be a vibrant, safe, and economically healthy place to live and raise our children.  I know it's important to you that we keep taxes low, and under my leadership, taxes have decreased for Bay County residents, and we've reduced regulation and streamlined government processes.

Years of effort brought Southwest Airlines to Bay County, and doing so has increased competition and driven down the price residents and visitors pay to fly in and out of Bay County.  That's part of the reason that we were one of only two areas in Florida (Key West was the other) that managed to increase tourism numbers during difficult economic times.

For the past 8 years, I've been a strong voice for the people of Bay County, and in the coming years I will continue to fight to make life in our area better.  As a military veteran, I'll work to protect and enhance the role the military plays in our community; as a businessman, I understand the importance of bringing in high-paying technical jobs; and as someone who has raised a family in Bay County, I'll try my best to ensure that the environment and resources we cherish remain for generations to come.

3 Main Campaign Points 

The Bay County Commission has an impressive list of accomplishments during my tenure, but we should constantly look to keep improving, while keeping taxes low and managing tax revenue in the most responsible way possible.  As someone who has grown up in the area, and has a growing family here, I'll focus on the 3 main points of 1) Economic Growth; 2) Infrastructure Improvement; and 3) Developing and continuing to improve our Parks & Recreation Department.

Economic Growth – It's imperative that we continue to make Bay County a business friendly environment, both to bring much-needed jobs to the area and to continue to support the companies doing business here now.  We've been working very proactively to help defend our military jobs, and the related fields, and have also been successful in continuing to improve tourism numbers while other area in Florida saw declines.  While nurturing the businesses we already have, we'll continue to focus on bringing new companies and industry to the area.  We must also continue the work we've done to reduce unnecessary regulation, and reduce fees that would otherwise discourage businesses from ever getting started.

Infrastructure Improvement – We have embarked on a remarkably successful campaign to improve infrastructure in Bay County.  That includes paving roads and extending sewer lines to new or outlying communities, repaving and adding bike lanes and sidewalks to worn out roads, and making evacuation routes safe and reliable, as well as anticipating growth trends to avoid bottleneck areas in the future.  Here, we've already accomplished much, but we must continue to make improvements.

Parks & Recreation – Improving existing areas and adding new parks ensures that we'll all be able to enjoy the beautiful area we live in.  I want to continue to make waterways more accessible (we've added and improved boat ramp areas, and are working to add a boat ramp to the Crooked Creek area).  Beach accesses also need attention, and the improvements made at the County Pier are a taste of what is possible.  We have also added dog parks, installed walking areas in existing parks, and added a stage to the Under the Oaks Park, which has already allowed for more community events and fundraisers.  These are the types of forward-thinking projects we need to continue to make sure Bay County is both a great place to live and to visit. 

  • Who will you vote for in the race for Bay County Commission District 5 republican nominee?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Jim Lawson
    86 votes
    Mike Thomas, Incumbent
    173 votes