Franklin County will have three new constitutional officers next year, thanks to their election on Tuesday during a record turnout at the polls.
A.J. Smith will become Franklin County's new sheriff, Traci Moses the superintendent of schools, and Heather Crum Riley the supervisor of elections, following a record turnout this election.
More than 84 percent of the county’s 7,256 registered voters cast ballots, with more than half of these, close to 53 percent of the total voters, casting their ballots before the sun ever rose Tuesday,
Republican Smith, 57, Apalachicola, captured 52 percent of the vote, to edge Democrat Brad Segree, 45, Carrabelle, who received 43 percent. Terry M. Martin, 55, Carrabelle, and Spencer Massey, 46, Carrabelle, both of whom ran without party affiliation, received 227 and 67 votes, respectively.
“I feel great,” said Smith, celebrating with friends at the Tap Room. “We’ve been working hard, we had a plan and we stuck to it and that’s what ti takes to be successful. It’s been a very long campaign.”
Smith said it was too soon to offer thoughts on his immediate plans. “I’m going to be the people’s sheriff and I’m going to provide more professional and better services to the community.
“Thank you to the people of Franklin County who have confidence and believe in us,” said Smith. “It isn’t about me, it’s about us. I just want to make Franklin County better than I found it for my kids and grandkids, and all of our kids and grandkids.”
In her first bid for public office, Moses, 38, Apalachicola, celebrated her victory at the home of her parents. A fourth grade teacher at the Apalachicola Bay Charter School, she received about 49 percent of the vote to defeat a veteran teacher, principal and administrator, Republican Frank Stephens, 82, Eastpoint, who tallied 37 percent. Stephanie Howze-Jones, a Franklin County High School teacher who ran without party affiliation, got 14 percent.
“I am very humbled and honored by the support from the people of Franklin County. I want to thank my family for standing by my side,” said Moses, who was on hand at the supervisor of elections office with her husband, two sons, and more than a dozen supporters. “Thank you to the people of Franklin County for your confidence in me to lead our school district.”
Moses said her first order of business, after she is sworn in Nov. 22, will be to meet with all district and school departments to hear concerns and set goals. “I believe in our students and staff and am excited about the future of the Franklin County School District,” she said.
Incumbent Democrat Clerk of Courts Marcia M. Johnson, 59, Apalachicola, received more than 66 percent of the vote, to swamp Althea “Penny” Sutton, who ran without party affiliation. This will be Johnson’s fourth term, after she narrowly won in 2004, and then faced no opponents in her election bids in 2008 and 2012.
“I just never lost faith in the informed voters of Franklin County,” she said. “I feel like I did a good job as clerk and I think the people recognized it. I’m very pleased.”
In the race for supervisor of elections, Riley, 45, Carrabelle, who ran without party affiliation, swamped incumbent Republican Pinki Jackel, 58, St. George Island, by a margin of 62 to 38 percent.
“I’m overjoyed, overwhelmed, so excited,” said Riley, who savored her win at the home of her parents, Ron and Shrilly Crum. “I’m humbled by the outpouring of support over this last year of campaigning. It’s amazing how the community got behind me as they did.”
Riley, who worked 13 years in the supervisor of elections office, under Doris Shiver Gibbs and Ida Cooper Elliott, had sought gubernatorial appointment from Gov. Rick Scott 15 months ago, after Elliott passed away. . A Republican at that time, Riley then dropped her party affiliation.
Jackel was one of two Scott appointees to fall in Tuesday’s election. The other, incumbent District 1 Republican county commissioner Rick Watson, 68, St. George Island, who was picked to succeed Jackel, fell to Ricky Jones, 45, Eastpoint, who ran with party affiliation. Jones earned 57 percent of the vote, to Watson’s 42 percent.
“I’m just happy its over with, to be honest with you,” said Jones. “It was a good learning experience to go through the process. Mr. Watson and I ran a good clean race.
“I’m glad people came out to exercise their right and I’m glad I came out the right side of that,” said Jones, who was at the supervisor of elections office to await the return with his wife Elizabeth.
“I know as with anything you’re trying to start I have a lot ot learn,” he said. “People are talking more about our economy than they ever have. That’s something we have to hone in on as a board, because we need to have some changes to start happening.”
In District 3, incumbent Democrat county commissioner Noah Lockley, 65, Apalachicola, amassed better than 76 percent of the vote to easily down Jimmy Lashley, 32, Apalachicola, who ran without party affiliation.
“I feel great. I want to thank God, I want to thank my wife and family and I want to send a special thanks to the people in District 3,” said Lockley. “They continue to believe in me; I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Lockley will now embark on his fourth term, after being first elected in 2004. He said his most important priority will be working on Weems hospital matters.
“I’m hoping we can get this hospital straight and I’m going to be working try to bring some jobs, focusing on that,” he said.