A strong turnout of early voters, and those casting ballots by mail, is signaling that city elections will be fiercely contested at this Tuesday’s Election Day.
As of press time Wednesday, the supervisor of elections office confirmed that 178 early voters had so far cast ballots, and 226 absentee voters had made their preferences known by returning their votes by mail.
Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley said the city has 1,783 voters, broken down into 1,161 Democrats, 372 Republicans, and 250 either registered with a smaller party or having no party affiliation. The city elections, for two commission seats and the mayor, are all non-partisan, so party affiliation is not a factor.
Riley said 376 absentee ballots have been requested from her office. To be counted, these ballots must be returned to the elections office in Apalachicola no later than 7 p.m. election night.
Early voting continues daily, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the elections office, 47 Avenue F, through Saturday.
On Election Day, Tuesday, Sept. 3, voters will cast ballots between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Fort Coombs Armory.
Vying for mayor are Kevin Begos, 61, 109 15th Street; Amy Hersey, 38, 451 Morris Cannon Street, and Valentina Webb, 55, 255 11th Street.
Vying for Seat 1 are Despina George, 62, 224 Whispering Pines Circle; Barry Hand, 51, 22 Apaco Street; George Mahr, 72, 212 Avenue C; and Luis Ramon Valenzuela-Lopez, 53, 16 Adams Street.
In the race for Seat 2, Adriane Elliott, 21 129 22nd Avenue, is running against Torben Madson, 57, 40 16th Street. This race will be decided Sept. 3, but in the other two, if no one wins a clear majority, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers on Tuesday, Sept. 17, also at the Armory.
No early voting or vote by mail will be held for the runoff. “Because that’s the way the Apalachicola city charter reads,” Riley said. “There’s not time for us to submit a ballot for coding and printing.”
Riley expects the turnout to be as strong or stronger than the 45.2 percent of registered voters in the city who turned out in 2017. The election is expected to cost the city about $6,000 and $7,000.
The newly elected city commission is expected to consider a proposal to align the election cycle with even-numbered years, so that it coincides with state and federal elections, thereby saving the city the costs to run its own election.