MILTON— Pat Lunsford has served on the Milton City Council for almost 20 years and said a lot has changed in her time as an elected official.

Lunsford was born in Wallace, an unincorporated community between Pace and Chumuckla. She graduated from high school and moved to Milton, with her husband, Earl Lunsford; they have been married for 61 years.

Lunsford has seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. In her free time, she said that she likes to bass fish, sew, garden and cook; she taught Sunday school for several years and loves to travel.

According to Lunsford, both her father and grandfather were businessmen in the Milton area for many years. She too opened a business, Pat’s House of Beauty, which she operated for 20 years.

Then, she had an idea.

“I got to thinking, you know, I might give something back,” Lunsford said. “I thought I would run for council when it came the time; I thought, 'I think I’d enjoy that.'

“Having been on the other end of it with my business, I thought maybe I could contribute something.”

Lunsford was elected in 1996 after closing her beauty shop, and served until 2000; she was reelected in 2002 and has been on the council ever since.

“The first time that I ran, I was walking the streets and knocking on doors,” Lunsford said. “Some little boys were playing in the street with their skateboards ... I said, 'I’m running for council and … if I win, is there anything, in particular, you guys as young people would like?'”

According to Lunsford, these boys asked for a skate park to be built in Milton. Lunsford said that after she won the council seat, the first thing she thought about was their wish.

“I began to work on that, trying to see if we had the money to do it. It seemed like an impossible dream,” Lunsford said. “People began to help me with it; we had garage sales and bake sales, and … we got it. I was thrilled.”

Lunsford said she has seen many people come and go from the council and the city staff, and everything has always gone smoothly until the last election.

“I don’t know what is going on,” Lunsford said. “We used to never have a council meeting that was three or four hours long. That is so uncalled for.”

Lunsford said it is important for the council to worry about the whole city, not only the downtown district. She said there should continue to be two council members per ward because there is enough going on in each area for two people to be in charge.

Lunsford plans to run for city council again in 2018; and, based on a recent discussion about giving the city council the power to hire and fire city staff, Lunsford said the city will not find more qualified people than those currently serving. That includes City Manager Brian Watkins, City Attorney Heather Lindsay, City Clerk Dewitt Nobles, Public Information Officer Pamela Holt, City Planner Randy Jorgenson, Police Chief Anthony Tindell and Fire Chief John Reble.

“They are an asset to the city,” Lunsford said. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”