The first meeting was held on March 13, 2014 and included Mayor Hayward Thomas, Mayor Bob Campbell, Mayor Russ Barley and Commissioner Sara Comander. Comander credits the idea to former Walton County Administrator Ronnie Bell who fostered the idea when he worked in collaboration with the other elected officials and the school board. It is Comander’s belief that an on-going challenge facing all local governments is how cities and county governments work together to ensure that the interests of all citizens are addressed. “I believe our residents want their governments to work together,” said Comander. “We share the same basic values and the same desire to protect and improve our quality of life. It just makes sense for the County and the cities to foster a closer relationship and look beyond our own self-interest to begin thinking and acting regionally.” These meetings are being conducted with the belief that consolidating and combining services is nothing new, but that working together has become significantly more important as those in government evolve to meet the challenge of providing essential public services with shrinking revenues. According to Comander, “As a result of this effort, we are forging stronger partnerships with our cities, our business community, our schools and our surrounding counties. Most importantly, we continue to expand and solidify the relationships we have with our residents.” Pictured Left to Right: Freeport Mayor Russ Barley, Paxton Mayor Hayward Thomas, DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell and District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander.