Political newcomer Colten Wright has unseated incumbent Lane Lynchard for the Santa Rosa County District 5 County Commission seat.
Wright, who lives in Gulf Breeze, was the only challenger to Lynchard’s seat. He won with 60% of the vote, compared to Lynchard’s 40%.
Lynchard, the incumbent, is an attorney and was first elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2008.
Wright and his wife own a company called The Tool Shack, which sells, services and rents power and construction equipment.
Wright told the News Journal on Tuesday night after the polls closed and his victory became clear that he was “humbled” by his big win.
“I’m definitely humbled by the outpouring of support from the citizens, and their desire to make a big change for a much brighter future,” he said. “I’d like to thank Commissioner Lynchard for his years of service to our county, and I certainly wish him and his family the best. I look forward to serving with dignity and honor, and I truly think Santa Rosa County’s brightest days are ahead.”
He added that his business experience will help him guide the county through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic when he takes office in November.
“Like I said on the campaign trail, during my business experience over the last 24 years and the 16 years running my current business, I’ve dealt with numerous challenges, like the BP oil spill,” he said. “Even with COVID-19, my business is having a record year, and I think it has to do with my ability to solve problems and my ability to bring people together and build a team to bring things done.
“There will always be a crisis or something that happens in the world around us, but it’s how we rise to the occasion and play the cards we’re dealt that really makes a difference,” he added.
Lynchard could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
District 5 includes the Gulf Breeze and Midway areas in southern Santa Rosa County. The district is among the fastest-growing in the county, and is seeing significant development activity, particularly with housing developments and new residential neighborhoods.
Since Wright and Lynchard, both Republicans, were the only two candidates in the District 5 race, and there were no Democrats, independents or write-in candidates in the field, Wright will not face anyone on Nov. 3 and is now the commissioner-elect.
Wright out-raised and out-spent Lynchard in the race, reporting over $54,000 in donations compared to Lynchard’s nearly $43,000.
The changing of the gavel and the swearing in ceremony for the Santa Rosa County commissioners typically happens the third Tuesday of November, after the general election.
Annie Blanks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8632.