District 4 Walton County Commissioner Sara Comander announced at Tuesday morning's board meeting that she will not seek re-election. She cited health issues as her reason.
"I have had 12 wonderful years serving this county and I am truly blessed. But I will soon be 72 and I have severe health problems," a tearful Comander said. "It will take concentration on my part to get to where I need to be. I have a beautiful granddaughter and I want to be able to be around for her wedding day, and she is just 10.
"I want to take care of myself and my health and I need to spend time with my family," she added. "It's not fair to the people of Walton County to run and not be able to serve out the four years. Maybe two or three, but not four, and that is not fair to the people of Walton County."
Comander said the hardest part would be not seeing the faces every day of the people she works with and serves.
Before she leaves office in November, Comander said she wants to accomplish some things. Among those things she said she is on fire to accomplish is bringing broadband to the entire county, which she said is desperately needed, and bringing RESTORE Act money back to the county.
Each of Comander's fellow commissioners offered kind words and well wishes at the announcement.
"I want to commend Sara," said District 2 Commissioner Cecilia Jones. "We don't always agree but it stays here."
District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson called Comander his mentor.
"She has helped me to understand what is going on," Anderson said. "This is a daunting job. She understands things way better than I do, especially RESTORE. She has fought for our money and Walton County. It's the effort she has given to teach me things that I will miss most. You will be missed."
Commission Chair Bill Chapman noted that they haven't always seen eye to eye, but that is politics.
"I am glad you took into consideration your health. We wish you the best," he said.
Comander has been a resident and business woman in Walton County for more than 40 years. She is past president of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, and the Panhandle Funeral Directors Association. She was chair of the DeFuniak Springs Centennial Committee, founder of Hometown Christmas, and founder of DeFuniak Springs Fourth of July Celebration.
She is the former co-owner of Comander Funeral Home and WGTX Radio Station, and formerly employed by the Walton County judicial system, Clerk of Court's office, and was Public Information Coordinator for Walton County. She was the co-founder and current president of the DeFuniak Springs Business & Professional Association.
In 2008-2009 Comander was the first woman to be chair of the Walton County Board of County Commissioners.
She was one of the founders and first Chair of the Walton County Economic Development Council.
Comander serves on several organizations representing the county, including the RESTORE Act Consortium and the Small County Coalition Executive Board.
She was Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year in 1991 and the Chamber Outstanding Volunteer in 1993. She was given the 1995 YMCA Directors Award, and the Outstanding Service Award from DBPA. She was the Walton County Press Club News Maker of the Year in 2001 and named the City of DeFuniak Outstanding Volunteer in 2002.
In 2010, Comander was awarded the Woman of Distinction in Governmental Officials Award from the Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle.
As District 4 Commissioner, in the southern end of the county, Comander represents Sandestin neighborhoods north of U.S. Highway 98 including Baytowne, the Seascape area, and the Owls Head neighborhood of Freeport. She has been on the board since 2006.