Santa Rosa County teacher and long time Milton resident Wes Meiss took the civics lessons he has learned and taught one step further on Tuesday.
The former Santa Rosa County Rookie-Teacher-of the-Year was sworn in as a new member of the Milton City Council, as he replaced Paul Kilmartin, who decided not to seek re-election.
"The feeling was euphoric," said Meiss, who is the youngest members of the council at 28. "Some kids grow up dreaming of playing major league ball or performing in a rock band. However, from the time I was in elementary school, I’ve wanted to be a Milton City Councilman.
"Growing up, I admired people like Mayor Cotton Byrom (He lived just down the street from my childhood home) Benny Russell, and Mayor Clyde Gracey."
Even after it became official, Meiss talked about the founders of Milton, whose gravesites he passes to and from City Hall and how he hopes he can live a positive mark on the city's future as they did.
The installation of council members drew a large crowd as outgoing council member Kilmartin got a few snickers as he said "ya'll" with his New England accent.
"I am very thankful for the past four years I have gotten to serve on the council," Kilmartin said. "I feel like I got gotten a lot of new friends over the last four years despite some tense moments when I was being argumentative.
"But I am glad to have been a part of an outstanding city council and work with the finest staff I know right here in Milton."
The packed house had a lot of special people to Meiss as he starts his second career as a public servant.
"The council chamber was packed with family and supporters," Meiss said. "There were numerous people in the crowd from every corner of the city.
"As a teacher, I spent my summer walking door to door with my signature “Radio Flyer Wagon”. I handed out my campaign information and distributed MEISS yard signs throughout each ward. If a constituent wanted to spend 20 or 30 minutes talking with me, that’s what
I did! I talked with the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the newcomers, and even the 4th and 5th generation citizens. I believe in the Republic and was honored to listen to the people’s concerns. Many folks claimed that a councilman had never knocked on their door."
Meiss, who helps to lead the Ghost Walk organized by the Santa Rosa County Historical Society, posed an interesting question about what he hopes to accomplish serving the residents of Milton.
"I wonder what my Ghost Walk skit will look like in 80 years," Meiss wondered.