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Ramswell Reflects on First Year in Office

By Savannah Vasquez Photo Kathy Harrison

Published: Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Newly elected city councilwoman Prebble Ramswell has seen a lot since her election to office earlier this year. The Log reached out to Ramswell to ask how her new role has helped shaped the city this year and what she hopes to achieve next year.

Q. How has your first year on the city council measured on the scale of your expectations coming into the office?

A. “This first year has been an amazing experience and exceeded my expectations in many ways but, there has been a learning curve. It has been a blessing to see how responsive and driven our staff is, but it has been challenging to overcome the limitations set by the Sunshine law when it comes to discussing matters with other council members. With such strict laws, one must err on the side of caution which essentially means no contact outside of public meetings. This makes it difficult when trying to research issues and rationales. I have been pleased with the issues brought forth which we have already tackled and continue to diligently work on, but I look forward the tasks on the horizon facing us in the months and years ahead. I thank you all for the opportunity to serve Destin.”

Q. In what ways have you been able to address the issues you focused on during your campaign?

A. “My primary goal was and is facilitating communication between the community and the city. I have found that many people simply gave up on the city because they felt they weren't being heard. I have made it a priority to be available and serve as a conduit of information and voice of the people. One of the first things I did upon taking office was starting a monthly newsletter to help keep people informed on what is happening in Destin. I continue to provide news and insights through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my website.

I continue to push for resolution of our storm water issues and though I was disappointed in the lack of support for a minor millage increase to fund repairs, I was thrilled with the recent awarding of a $3.6m grant to begin focusing on these needs. I have also continued my push for better traffic light synchronization and improved signage on 98. Both of these items are currently being reviewed.”

Q. What new opportunities has the position given you in terms of community, service and connection with other city governments?

A. “Serving as a council member has given me the ability to reach out and help in ways I could not as a private citizen. Over these past months, I have been contacted by residents in need of assistance on various matters who were unsure where to turn. I have been able to call on many folks within the city and in private business to help. Just last week, my mail carrier contacted me about a dangerous traffic issue and I was able to point her in the direction of our Public Works and Safety Committee who is at work addressing the problem.

Additionally, I have been able to attend educational conferences hosted by the Florida League of Cities which have served as a terrific way to network and brainstorm with other elected leaders on tackling issues that affect us all. I believe that in my service to the people of Destin, it is my responsibility to not just talk about what needs to be done, but educate myself thoroughly on the issues, discovering what has worked, what has not, and why in other communities so we can best plan for Destin.”

Q. How has this position widened your view of Destin and its needs?

A. “I am proud to say that this position has only succeeded in reinforcing my belief that the people of Destin are exceptionally passionate and caring. The love our residents have for our city and its residents is obvious, as seen in how we all come together during adversity. We are a family, and just like a family we may not agree with everything someone else has to say, but underneath it all is a genuine love and a common goal- seeking the best for Destin. I believe we are at a crossroads as a city, and we need to take great care in steering our ship in the direction best for Destin.”

Q. What are some of your hopes for the city next year?

A. “I am really looking forward to 2015 because there are many issues at hand which will see resolution. Among those is the revamping of code enforcement to include online filing and tracking of complaints and improved tasking of our officers. The community is overwhelmingly in favor of tougher enforcement and I am anxious to start seeing the results.”

“One of the greatest goals of 2015 will be the review and ultimate submission of Chapter 1 in our Land Development code. This is the section that addresses development and the tiering systems and has been a hot topic now for several years. With the hiring of a outside consultant bringing a fresh set of eyes, our goal is timely completion and submission based on Destin's current and future needs.

Additionally, the city will be able to begin and complete repairs on several storm water problem areas. These repairs will make an immediate impact. We also will continue our relationship with the Economic Development Council as we seek employment diversity and opportunity for our residents.

On a large scale, we are all looking forward to kicking off Phase 1 of the Norriego Point stabilization. As of now, the plan is for work to begin Memorial Day 2015.”

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