The election season heated up considerably last week, as three more candidates signaled their intent to run for tax collector.
Incumbent Tax Collector Rick Watson, 70, of St. George Island, appointed in April by Gov. Rick Scott to succeed Jimmy Harris, filed his notice of intent to seek the Republican nomination.
In addition, two others, Connie Polous, 53, of Eastpoint, and Jamie Crum, 50, of Eastpoint, both filed to run without party affiliation.
The three join Tami Lynn Ray-Hutchinson, 49, of Apalachicola, who entered the field earlier last month in a bid to seek the Democratic nomination.
In the event they file qualifying papers in June, both Polous and Crum will head straight to the Nov. 6 general election, where they will face the Republican and Democratic nominees, to be decided in the Aug. 28 primaries,
It is possible Watson could face opposition in a Republican primary Aug. 28, but no names have yet surfaced. Hutchinson is likely to face Teresa Ann Martin, 53, of Apalachicola, in the Democratic primary.
Martin plans to resign her position at the tax collector’s office, effective Feb. 2. Polous, also an employee of the tax collector’s office, is leaving the office Feb. 9.
The law stipulates that both women would have had to leave their jobs by June 8, just before the candidate qualifying period, due to rules found in Florida Statute 99.012.
In both cases, the law stipulates no subordinate individual can seek to qualify for an office held by someone “who has authority to appoint, employ, promote or otherwise supervise that person and who has qualified as a candidate for reelection to that office.”
In Martin’s case, the law also stipulates that no individual who holds an elected county post can run for a second elected county office. In the event she decides to qualify to run, she would have to step down from her District 3 school board seat, and since this would be more than 28 months before the end of her term in Nov. 2020, there would be a special election in Nov. 2018 to elect a successor to fill out the remainder of the term.
The “resign to run” requirement wouldn’t kick in until June, but Watson said he preferred the women’s decisions be made sooner. He said both women applied for the gubernatorial appointment last year, and that after he received it, he asked them both whether they planned to run this year.
He said over the last nine months, he indicated to both what he planned to do, and offered them a choice of resigning or being terminated. He said Martin resigned, while Polous took the termination option.
“I would feel very uncomfortable trying to run an office with people running for the office,” he said.