State Rep. Matt Willhite (D-District 86) filed paperwork Monday, April 5 to run for the District 6 seat on the Palm Beach County Commission, which will be vacated next year by term-limited Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.
After eight years on the Wellington Village Council, Willhite was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016. He has been re-elected by a comfortable margin ever since. He still has another term available before hitting his term limit in Tallahassee. However, Willhite cited personal reasons for why he will seek a position based closer to home.
“I have 12- and 13-year-old boys. They are at an impressionable age and need me around,” Willhite said. “I commute six hours each way, and I am gone all week. After I finish my [current] term, I want to be at home.”
Willhite noted that his wife is a native of Wellington, and he has adopted the community as his home during his 20-some years in the area and knows a lot about the county commission’s District 6 area, which includes all of the western communities and the Glades.
“My boys are in public school here. I was on the Wellington council for eight years and with the fire department for 25 years,” Willhite said. “I have a diverse background, so I have a good perspective.”
He feels he understands the local issues and has a lot to offer the constituents of District 6.
“The largest growth is heading toward the west, and I want to help with that framework,” Willhite said. “We need continued help in the Glades with jobs and housing and, of course, with the water.”
Willhite noted that Palm Beach County is home to some of the nation’s wealthiest people and some of its poorest, many of them in the Glades. “There is a great divide between the wealthiest and the poorest extremes, and I would like to bridge the middle,” he said, adding that he would like to build on some of the issues McKinlay has been working on during her tenure.
Willhite said that people from many diverse backgrounds seek public office, and most seek that public office for good reasons. “They want to do what they think is best for the community,” he said.
Willhite did not have any comment on other potential challengers who may also be looking at the District 6 seat. While the district tends to elect Democrats, the filing deadline is still a year away.
Willhite said his key electoral concern currently is growing his list of supporters and letting people know that he is about public service and giving back to the community. Learn more at www.mattwillhite.com.