Karen Sindel filed paperwork this morning to run for the Escambia County Commission, seeking to replace outgoing District 1 commissioner Wilson Robertson.
Robertson, who is currently serving his second consecutive term, has said since 2012 that he would not seek re-election. District 1 covers much of the western half of the county south of Interstate 10, stretching from Perdido Bay north to Beulah.
“Running for county commissioner is a natural progression of the 20 years of public and community service that I have put into Escambia County,” said Sindel.
Highlighting the rapid growth of Navy Federal Credit Union’s Heritage Oaks campus and the pending development of the adjacent 640-acre Outlying Landing Field 8 site, Sindel says District 1 needs a master plan. “In the past Escambia County has typically always been reactive,” Sindel said. “We need to be proactive. We need to look at the future impact the OLF-8 development will have on the county for infrastructure needs as well as the immediate impact on those who live there and have businesses there now.”
The Pensacola Republican joins current school board member Jeff Bergosh and contractor Jesse Casey, who each filed last year to run for the seat. This will be Sindel’s second run for the county commission — she ran unsuccessfully for the District 2 seat in 2010, finishing a strong second in a four-way Republican primary, falling just 152 votes shy of winner Gene Valentino.
Sindel has served since 2014 as Commissioner Doug Underhill’s appointee to the Santa Rosa Island Authority, which manages services for Pensacola Beach. Sindel previously served on the Escambia County Planning Board for several years, and has served in leadership positions with organizations including Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida, the March of Dimes, the Navy League, and the Florida Association of Local Housing Finance Authorities.
Sindel, 57, is a native of Selma, Ala. who first moved to the Pensacola area in 1980 after graduating from Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Sindel says community service is “almost in her DNA,” having grown up with two parents who were heavily involved in the Selma community. Sindel’s mother and father both served as tax officials for the City of Selma and Dallas County, Ala.
After a stint in San Diego, Sindel returned to Pensacola permanently in 1994. Since 2012, Sindel has worked for the National Flight Academy and National Naval Aviation Museum. She currently serves as the vice president of development for the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, though she will leave that position this week to focus on her campaign full-time.
At the time of her 2010 campaign, Sindel and her husband Tod lived in the Warrington’s Star Lake neighborhood, and they have lived on Pensacola Beach for the past few years. However, the couple has purchased property in the Nature Trail subdivision, located near the Navy Federal campus in District 1. Sindel says that she and her husband have contracted with a builder and hope to move into their new home by August. State law says candidates for county commission must establish residency in the district they’re seeking to represent by the time of the election.
The Republican primary for the commission seat is set for August 30. No Democrats have currently filed to run for the seat; should a Democratic candidate qualify, the general election would take place on November 8.