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Surprises emerge as election qualifying ends

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times

There were a few surprises, and lots of foregone conclusions, as qualifying week wrapped up at the supervisor of elections office Friday morning.

Each of the three county commissioners facing re-election prospects this year will now have opposition, as two previously undeclared challengers stepped forward.

In District #3, incumbent Democratic commissioner Noah Lockley, 69, Apalachicola, will face a challenge in the Nov. 3 general election from Brett Gormley, 41, Apalachicola.

In District 1, incumbent Republican commissioner Ricky Jones, 49, Eastpoint, will be squaring off against Republican challenger Pinki Jackel, 62, of St. George Island. Jackel formerly represented the district, prior to her appointment by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the remaining term of the late supervisor of elections Ida Elliott.

While they are both Republicans, the absence of any other challengers means the GOP primary Aug. 18 will be open, meaning any and all voters within the district which encompasses St. George Island and portions of Eastpoint, regardless of party affiliation, can cast ballots in this county commission race.

In District 5, incumbent William Massey, who is running without party affiliation, will square off in November against Republican challenge Madeline Nevarez, 54, of Carrabelle, and Jessica Varnes Ward, 41, of Eastpoint, who is running without party affiliation.

In addition to these candidates entering the races, a write-in candidate In the tax collector race, Steve Ricks, 63, of Eastpoint, stepped in. That move could have meant that the winner of the August GOP primary, either incumbent Rick Watson, 73, of St. George Island, or Danny W. Gay, 49, of Apalachicola, would be decided by only Republicans, and not as an open primary for all voters.

But Gay then altered his election status to no party affiliation, which ensured a November election in which both Republicans would square off, effectively switching the date of the election from August. And to add an additional twist, Ricks has told elections officials he plans to withdraw from the race, citing health reasons.

In the superintendent race, incumbent Democrat Traci Moses Yoder, 42, of Apalachicola, will not have a challenger in the Democratic primary from Michael Sneed, 40, of Apalachicola, as he did not file the requisite paperwork. Instead, Yoder will face Republican challenger Steve Lanier, 62, Eastpont. in the November general election.

Among the other constitutional officers, Erin Hale Griffith, 39, of St. George Island, and Suzanne Michele Maxwell, 47, of Apalachicola, both running without party affiliation, will face off in the November general election. Both are trying to succeed Marcia Johnson, who is retiring.

In the sheriff’s race, Republican incumbent Sheriff A.J. ‘Tony’ Smith, 60, of Apalachicola, will face Democratic challenger Carl Whaley, 51, of Carrabelle, in the November general election.

Both Democratic incumbent Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper, 62, of Carrabelle, and incumbent supervisor of elections, Heather Riley, 49, who holds the office without party affiliation, drew no opponents, so both will now receive another four-year term.

In the school board races, which are non-partisan, incumbent Fonda Davis, 52, of Apalachicola, drew no challengers, so he will now be elected to his first full four-year term representing District 3. He was elected two years ago to complete the term of Teresa Ann Martin, who stepped down to seek the tax collector’s office.

In the race in District 1, to succeed the retiring George Thompson, Tara Klink, 31, and Melone Inzetta, 63, both of Eastpoint, will square off in the August primary.

In District 5, Jared Mock, 29, Carrabelle, drew no opponents in his bid to succeed Whaley, so he is set to receive a four-year-term.