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By Donna Vavala

First time political candidate Margo Anderson, whose platform included cleaning up the city and its parks, correcting the city’s storm water ills, repairing city streets and changing the commission meeting time to 6 p.m. to allow more residents to attend, won big over 18-year incumbent Mayor Walter Kelley in Tuesday night’s election.

Margo captured 1,559 votes, or 62.02 percent of the vote, to Walter Kelley’s 996 votes for a total of 41.07 percent of the votes.

Sunburned and worn out from campaigning these last months, Margo was all smiles at her election celebration party at Roberts Hall, in Lynn Haven.

“I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the voters. I’m a fifth generation resident of Lynn Haven, and I will remain vested in the best interests of this little city,” she said, adding, “I wish Mayor Walter Kelley the best in his future endeavors.”

Meanwhile, over at Sonny’s BBQ, in Lynn Haven, a small crowd of Walter Kelley’s supporters gathered and applauded enthusiastically as he made his way into the back room party to address them.

After 18 years as mayor of Lynn Haven and 22 years in city government, he was recently named Florida Mayor of the Year and presented with the Drew Harris Municipal Lifetime Achievement Award. As a lobbyist for the Northwest Florida League of Cities for 19 years, Walter Kelley was elected, in 2009, as Elected Official of the Year. 

Now in his early eighties, but spunky as ever, he had hoped to serve yet another term as mayor to continue adding more upgrades to the city, to attract more businesses and to manage the city’s growth. But it was not to be.

“The people of Lynn Haven have spoken, and we have accepted it,” he began, then added, “I probably won’t be involved in politics, but I’m going to have a good time, do a little traveling and have some fun. You’ll see me around town and playing golf. I’m going to look forward, not back.”

Margo Anderson, the 60-year-old mother, grandmother, masters degreed school teacher of 30 years and professional singer will be looking forward, too -- forward to all the positive changes she plans.

“I’m very excited about the first thing I said when I started my campaign – ‘consider the possibilities for Lynn Haven,’” said Margo, adding that she is planning something special at her first commission meeting, at 4 p.m., April 28, at the City Hall Annex beside the police station. “I would like all the people of Lynn Haven to come to the meeting.” 

Back at Sonny’s, former Lynn Haven Mayor Sharon Sheffield, expressed her disappointment over Walter Kelley’s loss.

“We can’t afford to regress,” she told the crowd. “It’s going to take all of us going to commission meetings, not just because we are working for something as an individual, but to stand up for the City of Lynn Haven.

“You might look up and see me next time,” Sharon said, hinting that she might have some future political aspirations.

Incumbent City Commissioner Rodney Friend earned 1,429 votes, or 58.93 percent of the vote, while newcomer, Robert Schultz, raked in 996 votes for 41.07 percent of the vote.
Edgecombe Remembers 
2013 Boston Marathon
Volume 6, Issue 9             April 24 - May 8, 205
Margo Anderson All Smiles After Lynn Haven Election
Local Runner Recounts Boston Marathon Bombing
By Sarah Evans

Two years after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the only surviving suspect, has been found guilty on all charges and is awaiting sentencing. Still, thousands of lives have been devastated in his wake and his actions have affected many more. Local runner Joseph Edgecombe, 66, was lucky enough to survive the ordeal and return home.

Edgecombe is an avid runner of 30 years who participates in races both locally and around the country. He also works as a respiratory therapist in the Bay county area. When he was 36, he was asked to operate a medical booth at the Gulf Coast Triathlon. Shortly after, he bought an exercise machine and tested his fitness level. The results indicated he was not where he needed to be, so he stopped smoking and began searching for ways to improve his health. The next year he returned to the triathlon to work the medical booth and thought, “One day I'll do that.” Since then, he has run in the Gulf Coast Triathlon 28 consecutive times.

For any serious runner, Boston is the epitome of marathon races. At age 60, he was able to qualify and, to date, he's participated in it three times. In the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon, his running partner Margaret Kirkland, of Southport, began having pains in her foot about halfway through the race, so the pair decided to slow their pace to avoid serious injury. It wasn't long afterward that the bombs went off near the finish line. 

“We got within a half mile of the finish line and saw people running back to us. The police came and said the race was over and when we asked what happened, they said a bomb went off,” said Edgecombe.

In his previous Boston Marathon run, Edgecombe ran for approximately four hours and six minutes. “Had we been running our normal pace,” he recalls, “we would have been right in the middle of it. Something or someone was looking out for us.”

 The reality was unsettling, and Edgecombe shared the reaction of most everyone. “I was shocked and devastated.”

Edgecombe was able to fly home the next day, where he followed the news coverage until the suspect was apprehended. The following week, he resumed running.

“It's good therapy to get back into it. When you're running, you feel like you can solve every problem in the world.” said Edgecombe. 

He and Kirkland even participated in the Boston Marathon the next year.

 “We went back and ran it so we could finish the race and complete our journey.”

Since the attack, Edgecombe has continued to run regularly and refuses to let the events of April 2013 stop him. 

“I'm not going to let things like that stop me from doing what I do.” 

In light of Tsarnaev's conviction, Edgecombe says he's waiting for the sentencing phase and hopes the convicted murderer is brought to justice.

“It's not about an eye for an eye,” he said. “It's so the victims can have closure. We can't let people think they can get away with it [domestic terrorism].”