Meet the Nine People Who Want To Be Appointed To Niceville City Council

Meet the Nine People Who Want To Be Appointed To Niceville City Council

the niceville seal
Nine candidates, ranging from pastors and entrepreneurs to lawyers and former military personnel, have applied for the vacant Niceville City Council seat. Get to know their backgrounds, aspirations, and what they bring to the table as they compete to shape the future of Niceville. 🗳️

Nine people have applied to the Niceville City Council to sit in the chair that former City Councilman Abner Williams vacated.

Williams resigned his seat effective immediately at the City Council’s January meeting.

Let’s meet ’em.

We’ll go in the order they submitted their applications.

If you want to read the letters they submitted to the city council, head to the bottom of the story – we have the complete documents there.

Doug Stauffer

Pastor Doug Stauffer is the religious leader of Faith Independent Baptist Church in Niceville and is a regular attender at City Council meetings. Pastor Stauffer typically opens all meetings of the City Council with a word of prayer on the invitation of the mayor and mayor pro tem. 

Pastor Doug Stauffer of Faith Independent Baptist Church speaks before the ceremony to christen the Mayor Randall Wise Memorial Highway.

In addition to his religious duties, Pastor Stauffer notes in his letter to the council that he has been involved in city government for more than 30 years, has served on numerous boards and has an accounting degree from Penn State University. “My commitment and dedication to the citizens of Niceville are unwavering. I am enthusiastic about collaborating with other city council members, city officials, and the citizenry to foster continued growth and effectively address upcoming challenges our community may face. I am confident that my extensive background, diverse skill set, and balanced temperment will greatly benefit Niceville and the City Council.”

Carolyn Clark 

Carolyn Clark noted in her letter to the city council that she “would be an asset to the City Council, Mayor, City Manager and the City of Niceville.”

She adds that she was a federal government employee for 40 years and an entrepreneur. She says that she opened several businesses in Maryland and Virginia before she retired. 

“I as a citizen fully support the Aquatic Center and Restoration of Historic Downtown. I truly love the idea of the born learning trail. I would strive to be an asset in every way,” Clark added. 

Douglas Tolbert

Douglas Tolbert currently serves as a member of the Planning Commission. This body helps the council determine whether or not to grant variances on properties and is the first place the city should look for a replacement councilperson, according to Niceville Clerk Dan Doucet

Tolbert also sits on the Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) and Niceville City Charter Committee. 

“I have observed the Niceville City Council and management team for some time and admire the organization’s efforts to posture our community for success while looking toward the future versus the past,” he wrote. He has lived in Niceville since 2005. 

Kristen A. Shell

You may remember Kristen Shell’s name from the middle of 2023 – she was the other finalist for the City Manager position David Deitch won in 2023 on a secret 3-2 ballot that led to a unanimous public vote in his favor.

Shell has several postgraduate degrees in public administration, urban planning, and environmental engineering. 

In her work life, she serves as the Deputy Planning Director for the Walton County Board of County Commissioners. 

A woman smiling in a portrait.
Kristen Shell is the Deputy Planning Director at the Walton County Board of County Commissioners in DeFuniak Springs. Shell holds multiple master's degrees in government-related fields like Civil Engineering, Urban Planning and Business Administration.

“What I bring, in addition to my love for this city and my devotion to community service, is a great deal of experience working on difficult community issues in various regional local government settings,” Shell wrote, “I have worked on tough environmental issues related to bay water quality and spring protection, cultural heritage tourism in Panama City’s historic African American community, place-based inner-city neighborhood plans, large-scale infrastructure projects in the City of Tallahassee, and transportation planning in Walton County… just to name a few. I have a proven track record with effective community engagement, teamwork, and problem-solving.”  

Michael W. Taylor

Michael W. Taylor is a local attorney who teaches at Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC). He serves as a local sports official, leads an annual fundraiser for the Children’s Advocacy Center, judges Collegiate High School Capstone programs, and has created an advisory committee to help NWFSC navigate local trends in the legal profession. 


NWFSC Professor Michael Taylor

Before retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel, Taylor’s last assignment was as Chief Legal Counsel at Eglin Air Force Base – the same position current city manager David Deitch held at his last duty station. 

Taylor submitted a vision statement for his time on the city council, which he said he would work toward if selected: “To serve residents by ensuring Niceville is not just a place to live, but a thriving community with abundant opportunity and innovation, where smart and sustainable growth ensures a beautiful and healthy city, where people of all generations connect and learn in a supportive and enriching environment, and where we share a strong sense of belonging to a community that looks to the future while remembering our past.”

Perian Herring

Perian Herring says she has lived in Niceville for 32 years and notes she has a doctorate and worked as an Air Force Data Analyst. 

“I am particularly drawn to this opportunity because of my passion for contributing to the betterment of Niceville. If appointed, I am committed to working collaboratively with fellow council members, listening to the concerns of our community, and advocating for policies that enhance the quality of life for all residents.”

W. Rhys Macbeth

Macbeth says his time in the Air Force and living in eight states has given him perspective as has living in Niceville for more than two decades. 

“I have seen the good, and not so good, of many communities,” he wrote in a letter to the council, “After serving 26 years in the Air Force and 15 years in Civil Service, I now have time to help Niceville be its best.”

Macbeth, a retired Colonel, added that his top initiatives would revolve around safety and quality of life for citizens. “The highlight of our years in Niceville has been our son’s progression through youth sports activities, being a member of the NHS Eagles Football Team, and now being a Niceville PD officer.”

Douglas Savage

Douglas Savage noted his 40+ years of professional experience in the Public and Private sectors and his extensive education and training and referred to his resume for more information. The City of Niceville has not yet released the candidates’ resumes to Mid Bay News, but our organization has a pending public records request with the city for them.

Paul Sjoberg 

Local Entrepreneur Paul Sjoberg graduated from Niceville High School and has built several businesses in addition to several homes he rents in the area. He’s responsible for an attainable housing project, The Clearing, in Valparaiso. 

man in hat
Paul E. Sjoberg, CEO of Leverage Information Technologies

“Over the coming decade, Niceville will experience significant growth. I am particularly interested in maintaining Niceville’s Community Culture while smartly creating opportunities for our citizens to thrive through infrastructure, beautification, and recreation-related projects. I am dedicated to fostering open communication, transparency, and accountability within our local government.”

Sjoberg has environmental science and geographic technologies degrees, worked for Lockheed Martin, and runs an 5,000 business.  

Suraj Patel

Suraj Patel ran for city council in 2020. the 31-year-old is the youngest member of the field of candidates who have submitted their applications to join the city council. 

Patel has a general contractor’s license and builds hotels throughout the northwest Florida area. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University.  

Suraj Patel is a local hotel developer and rand for city council in 2020.
Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul

Christopher Saul is the publisher of Mid Bay News. He graduated from Southern Methodist University's School of Journalism with a Convergance Journalism Degree and a Master's Degree in Public Administration From Florida State.

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