At the close of candidate qualifying for the 2023 Port St. Joe city elections on Wednesday, five candidates had qualified to run for three seats in the city’s government — making this the first election cycle with a contested race in three years.
Two seats are being contested in the nonpartisan election, those currently held by Commissioner David Ashbrook, who is not seeking reelection after being charged with domestic battery in February, and by Mayor Rex Buzzett, who is the only incumbent running in a contested race this year.
Buzzett, who has been the city’s Mayor since 2019 and served as a city commissioner for a decade prior, will be facing off against another Port St. Joe native and a political newcomer, Air Force veteran Amos Pittman Jr..
Army veteran Alan Wetzstein and local business owner Steve Kerigan will compete for the open Group 2 seat.
Commissioner for Group 1 Eric Langston, who was also up for reelection this year, did not draw an opponent during candidate qualifying. Therefore, no election will be held for the seat, and Langston will be sworn in for another term.
The election will be held Tuesday, May 9 in the Supervisor of Elections Office, located at 401 Long Avenue.
Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. EDT.
Early Voting will be held at the Supervisor of Elections office located at 401 Long Avenue from April 29 to May 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including Saturdays.
If voters are unable to make it to the polls, they can request a ballot be sent to them by mail by requesting one at www.votegulf.gov or by calling 850.229.6117.
Voters have until April 10 at midnight to register to vote if they are not already registered.
The following are statements prepared by the candidates, listed in alphabetical order by first name.
Alan Wetzstein — Commission, Group 2
My name is Alan “AL” Wetzstein, and I am announcing my candidacy for Port St Joe City Commissioner for Group 2.
Since retiring from the United States Army as a field artillery officer in 2016, I have had more time to devote to our wonderful Port St. Joe community. While in the military I spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of my time was spent conceiving, developing, implementing and overseeing critical projects.
I have a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting, and a masters degree in leadership and management.
As a resident of Port St Joe for many years, I have spent the majority of my time volunteering and holding multiple positions at our local Veterans of Foreign Wars auxiliary post, and I am also a member of multiple military organizations.
I am a member of the local Lions Club and attend the First United Methodist Church. I have four adult children, Carissa, Nathan, Corland and Adam, and seven grandchildren.
I am passionate about Port St Joe and our citizens. My first priority is always our community. Join me and let us move responsibly into our future for the good of all of PSJ.
I will stand against any attempt to turn Port St. Joe back into an industrial town. There are better options to move us forward into our future.
I say no to LNG and yes to Port St. Joe!
I plan to support local businesses and our tourism industry and identify and recruit businesses that will complement our community.
I will work to develop and implement real affordable housing solutions for PSJ.
I will prioritize youth development through after school programs that include mentoring and skills development and re-establish the PSJ Recreation Department.
I will stop giving exceptions for the development of wetlands. We should work to restore natural wetlands. This will help protect us from future storms and associated flooding. I will help develop three, five and 10 year growth plans that are fiscally responsible for continued economic growth and community support and meet new EPA guidelines for water and sewer handling.
I humbly ask for your support and your vote for PSJ City Commission Group 2.
Alan “AL” Wetzstein
No to LNG.
Yes to PSJ.
Amos Pittman Jr. — Mayor
I’m Amos Pittman Jr, a father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, classmate and veteran.
I am proud to call Port St. Joe my birthplace and to be a graduate of the Port St. Joe High School class of 1994. After graduating, I answered the call to serve in the United States Air Force for 22 years, defending and protecting the constitutional freedoms of every United States citizen. I was blessed with the enormous responsibility of leading, mentoring and counseling hundreds of men and women through times of peace and war. I led them with conviction, empathy, humility, fairness and respect for their opinions, values and beliefs.
It would be an honor of a lifetime to answer the call again (if elected) to serve as the mayor of where I was raised.
I’m running so that the voice of residents from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives of this great city will be heard, respected and acknowledged. I will do this by establishing a link on the city’s website for residents to voice their concerns, suggestions and feedback, with or without anonymity, and establish guidelines as to how and who will address residents’ submissions.
With limited revenue available to the city, securing federal and state grants for important projects such as infrastructure, storm water drainage, housing shortage, economic equality, elder care, youth recreation/mentorship programs, and at-risk veterans will be my top priorities.
Promoting our city, showcasing what makes Port St Joe special, and fostering our city’s economic growth through business connections, networking, and peer learning opportunities on issues affecting our city are also of utmost importance. Joining the Florida League of Mayors and United States Conference of Mayors, using funds from an annual Mayor’s Ball to cover membership, and attending their conferences will ensure the realization of these objectives.
I will support our first responders by hosting an Annual First Responders’ Ball to contribute to their benevolence fund, recruitment and training efforts.
It is my intent as mayor to ensure that every resident and tourist knows that Port St. Joe is an inclusive and accessible city where everyone, regardless of their economic means, gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual identity, immigrant status or religion, is enabled and empowered to fully participate in the social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities this city has to offer.
Rex Buzzett — Mayor
My name is Rex Buzzett and I am asking you to elect me mayor of Port St. Joe for a third term.
After Hurricane Michael devastated our city in October 2018, I felt the calling to help Port St. Joe rebuild. I believe our commission and staff has done a wonderful job and is continuing to work on many projects. We are making progress but still have much work ahead of us.
I was born in Port St. Joe in 1947 to Meta and Gannon Buzzett, Graduated from Port St. Joe High School in 1965, graduated from Gulf Coast State College and the University of Florida College of Pharmacy in 1972, and moved back to Port St. Joe to help my father in the family business, Buzzett Drug Store.
It was most rewarding working alongside my dad — especially seeing how he treated and helped people.
Since we closed our business in 2003, I have been able to and enjoyed finding ways to help our community as well. My time on the city commission (2008 — 2018) and as mayor (2019 — present) has been most satisfying, and I would like to continue for another term.
Road paving is a high priority, as well as affordable housing development. I have worked to budget for roads and bring in housing partners and options during my time as mayor and will continue to work to do so.
I am married to my beautiful wife Nancy and have been for over 51 years. We have two children, son Brad and his wife JoAnna and their children Gannon and Jack, and daughter Amy and husband Scott and their children Alatia and Olivia. My brother Bernie, his wife Peggy, my sister Barbara Terry, and her husband Jim all reside in Port St. Joe.
Please help me serve another term as your mayor. I would be grateful for your vote and support during early voting (April 29 — May 6) and on Election Day May 9. Thanks again for your trust in me.
Steve Kerigan — Commissioner, Group 2
My dear neighbors, friends and family of Port St. Joe,
I am excited to announce my candidacy for city commissioner, and I kindly ask for your support.
My story began here in Port St. Joe, where I enjoyed a charming and adventurous childhood along the Gulf and Bay County shorelines.
As I approached my graduation from Port St. Joe High School, I desired to explore and learn beyond my small town and left for college, later landing on the West Coast, where I kickstarted my career in branding and business promotion. Within eight years, however, I heeded the call to return to my roots and the place I loved most to establish my business and raise my children. Together with my wife, Kim, we have raised eight successful children in this town, and this year I am celebrating my business’s 20th anniversary.
Now, I feel a new calling in my life, and that is to give back and play a role in the future of this community. Having lived here most of my life, I have witnessed immense growth as our little slice of paradise has attracted new visitors and residents who have fallen in love with the area just as I did as a young child.
This growth is showing no signs of slowing, and it must be met with strategic, sensible planning that benefits all our citizens, protects and maintains our waterways and greenspace, and honors our small-town charm.
No, I am not a politician, but I am a successful local business owner with more than 20 years of leadership, strategic planning and revenue generation under my belt. I am confident the combination of my professional experience and my love for this town will allow me to serve as a responsible and balanced leader with fresh perspective and drive.
If elected, it is my intention to serve as a bridge between our local government and our community so together we can work to improve our town and create solutions to the problems we face. I will always be willing and eager to hear your thoughts and questions, listen to your stories and lend a helping hand. It would be my greatest honor to serve the City of Port St. Joe. I humbly ask you for your support and for your vote.