For the first time in 30 years, Franklin County will have a new county judge.
Apalachicola attorney J. Gordon Shuler, with 2,250 votes, representing 57 percent of the vote, defeated Apalachicola attorney Barbara Sanders, with 1,626 votes, to be elected judge. A third candidate, Roseanna Bronhard, secured 69 votes, or a little less than 2 percent of the vote.
“I feel a lot of gratitude,” said Shuler. “I have been blessed with a lot of people who have worked hard and believed in me.
“Barbara Sanders fought a hard race, we both have practiced together in a small town and we’ve known each other a long time, and I’m glad that the people chose me and I appreciate that,” he said. “I thank her for fighting a good, hard, clean race.
“I always believe in treating people with dignity and respect, and she and I will continue to treat each other that way,” Shuler said.
As per the rules, Shuler plans to wind down his law practice in advance of his being sworn in the first week of January. “I’ll close out what cases I have, I cannot practice and be a judge,” he said.
“I want to thank the people for giving me this opportunity to serve,” Shuler said. “I ran in the race because I believed strongly I was the most qualified. I promise to be fair and hardworking and dependable.”
Tuesday’s balloting set up what promises to be an exciting race for tax collector.
In the GOP race for tax collector, incumbent Rick Watson took 793 votes, or 62 percent of the vote, to defeat challenger Jamie Crum, who got 482 votes.
On the Democratic side, Teresa Ann Martin amassed 1,444 votes, or 66 percent of the vote, to defeat Tami Ray-Hutchinson, who attracted 733 votes.
The two will square off in November, joined by a third candidate, Connie Polous, who is running without party affiliation.
“I am very excited and I’m very honored and I’m very grateful to have won this campaign,” said Martin. “I wish Tami Ray Hutchinson all the best. They ran a great race and a clean race and I’m honored for that. I would like to thank my family and friends, for all their support.
“I look forward in the days to come to be back on the campaign trail, knocking on doors and getting ready for November,” she said. “I believe with my experience, my knowledge and my dedication to the tax collector’s office, I believe the people will come out and support me.”
Watson said he too is looking forward to November.
“I’m feeling great,” he said. “I was thrilled about the win, I thought it was a clean campaign and I thank everybody that supported me
“I’m going after those Democratic votes and those independent votes,” Watson said. “I think I have a good message.”
In the race for School Board Seat #3, Fonda Davis Sr. gathered 565 votes, or 66 percent, against Roderick Robinson Jr., who received 293 votes. He will succeed Martin, who stepped down in order to run for tax collector.
“I’m very excited about winning. I’m just ready to get to work on trying to help move the schools on vocational education,” said Davis.
“My opponent ran a good, clean race; I have the utmost respect for him,” he said. “I truly thank everyone who voted, supported me, with prayers, whatever, and I look forward to working with them, being part of a team to help the school system move forward.”
In the race for School Board seat #4, incumbent Stacy Kirvin amassed 534 votes, or 62 percent, to defeat Christy Thompson, who collected 322 votes.
“I’m happy I won,” said Kirvin. “Ms. Thompson ran a very clean race, she called me to congratulate me, and I commend her on that.
“As a school district we need to continue to move forward,” said Kirvin, who has served as chair for the past two years. “I appreciate all the support people gave me. I really didn’t know what to expect; I’m happy now I can concentrate solely on the job.”
In the race for 2nd Circuit judge, Franklin County preferred David Frank, who gathered 45 percent of the vote, to 34 percent for D. Christine Thurman, and 21 percent for Lisa Barclay Fountain. That race will be decided in November, in a run-off between Frank and Fountain.
In the race for Congress, county voters preferred Brandon Peters as the Democratic nominee, as he attracted 63 percent of the vote to Bob Rackleff's 37 percent. Rackleff narrowly edged Peters to win that nomination, and he will face incumbent Republican Neal Dunn.
In the race for governor, county Democrats preferred Gwen Graham, as she secured 55 percent of the vote, while Andrew Gillum got 22 percent, Jeff Greene 8 percent, and Philip Levine 7 percent. Chris King gathered 4 percent of the votes, John Wetherbe 3 percent and Alex Lundmark 2 percent.
Gillum won the nomination and now will face Ron DeSantis in the fall.
Among Republicans, county voters preferred DeSantis, who drew 51 percent of the vote, to Adam Putnam, who received 38 percent. None of the six other candidates got more than 4 percent of the vote, the highest going to Bob Langford, who drew 3.7 percent support from the county's GOP.
Governor Rick Scott picked up 83 percent of the Republican vote in his bid for the nomination to be senator. He will face incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, who was unopposed for the nomination, in the fall.
In the race for Agriculture Secretary, county Republicans preferred Matt Caldwell, with 42 percent of the vote, and Democrats liked Nikki Fried, with 44 percent of the vote. The two will square off in November.
In the race for attorney general, Democrats preferred Sean Shaw, with 67 percent of the vote, and GOP voters liked Ashley Moody, with 58 percent of the vote. The two will go up against each other in November.
As far as turnout went, it turned out it was fairly modest on Election Day and very robust leading up to that.
In early voting, county voters cast 1,210 ballots, a new record, with 1,220 ballots cast by mail, also a fairly high number.
But on Election Day, only 1,560 voters came out to vote, leading to an overall turnout of 52.3 percent, which fall short of Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley’s hopes of being above 70 percent.
“It was kind of a disappointment on Election Day,” she said. “I thought we’d have a better turnout. But early voting was phenomenal.”