Benita Crittendon has announced her intention to run for the District 5 seat on the Washington County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) after “thoughtful consideration and prayer.” 

“I’ve  been back and forth on how I wanted to approach this announcement and I’ve decided to speak from the heart directly to you and be true to myself,” she said. “It is not my nature to  beat around the bush…so there’s no sense in starting now.”

Crittendon was born and raised in Panama City.  She has been married to her husband Chris for 28 years.  

“In 1998, we purchased property in Greenhead and moved to Washington County in 2001,” Crittendon said. “My career has been in healthcare for more than 30 years, with the majority of that time working as a home health physical therapy practitioner in the rural counties of Northwest Florida. Since 2018, I’ve owned and operated Tri County CPR  & More, teaching emergency response classes in NW Florida and SE Alabama.”

In addition, she assists her husband in managing his sheetmetal business, a second generation family-owned business.  

“Throughout our 30 years together, we have enjoyed playing softball, hunting, fishing, racing, and working on our family farm,” she said.

Crittendon said she has attended BOCC meetings for around 15 years.

“Over the last 3+ years, I have become more dissatisfied and discouraged about the direction of our county, so I’m going to address the elephant in the room that some commissioners don’t like to talk about,” she said. “There is an FBI investigation as reported by the County attorney last year which involves the County’s contracted  emergency management firm. Additionally, millions of dollars of reimbursement money is being held by the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) & FEMA based on questionable performance and decisions by contracted firms.”

Between October 2023 and the end of November 2023, Crittendon said the BOCC created $10.5 million dollars in debt to pay contractors for FEMA work performed and avoid a delinquency breech of contract due to the reimbursements being withheld. 

“The course of these events have put our county in a financial strain and appear to favor special interests with no sign of accountability in sight,” she said. “Since 2020, I have listened to the discussions month after month about FEMA and Grant projects where simple questions lead to long explanations that sound technical and professional, but in the end, never answer the original question.”

Crittendon said  she’s spoken at the podium many times about the “theatrics that are performed to achieve certain outcomes and about the selective dissemination of information by certain officials to the citizenry and other board members.”

“Equally important, I’ve pointed out the patterns of behaviors that certainly reflect ethical issues,” she continued. “This county has serious problems that need attention and have been swept under the rug far too long. The status quo and going along to get along ain’t cutting the mustard any more.”

Historically, she said she’s encouraged citizens to become active and involved in their local government to be present and to be knowledgeable.  

“My decision to run for County Commissioner is an act of accountability for myself,” she said. “I can no longer stand by and watch special interest politics affect our county tax dollars. Therefore, I’m taking practice what you preach to the next level.”

Crittendon further said there is one thing she has learned sitting in public meetings all these years–one commissioner can’t change anything.  

“It takes a majority vote, so I am asking for your vote in the District 5 race and I encourage every citizen to think seriously about the votes you cast in District 1 and 3 as well,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask all the candidates direct and pointed questions.  Check their oil and I’m speaking about myself as well. We need a board that is not afraid to make difficult decisions to right this ship.”

Crittendon said if voters wonder what she is going to do if elected, it will be doing the same thing she’s been doing for years: educating herself, asking uncomfortable questions, pursuing “truth and transparency,” and weighing “decisions based on what is best for this county and its citizens…not what’s best for special interests.”

“I welcome discussion and I look forward to meeting many of you as I beat the pavement in the upcoming weeks and months,” she said. “Thank you for your time and, hopefully, your vote.”