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District 1 races highlight Tuesday primary

David Adlerstein
The Apalachicola Times
Pinki Jackel
Ricky Jones
Melonie Inzetta
Tara Klink

All 8,295 eligible registered voters in Franklin County will have a chance to exercise their right to cast a ballot this Tuesday in the primary election, as there are people on the ballot in all eight precincts.

But for the 1,084 voters who cast ballots at Precinct #1, inside the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department, and for the 941 voters who do so in Precinct #7, at the St. George Island United Methodist Church, it is an especially important election.

That’s because they are all in District #1, which is the only one of the five county districts where voters will be deciding who they want as their county commissioner and who they prefer as their school board member.

The district encompasses all of St. George Island and portions of Eastpoint, stretching from the river east to Otter Slide Road.

Current registration totals show the district includes 962 Republicans, 768 Democrats, 256 who have no party affiliation and 37 who are registered with a minor party.

The race for county commissioner for District #1 is between two Republicans, but because no one else is running, all voters within the district, regardless of party affiliation, or even those without a party affiliation, can cast ballots in this race.

Incumbent commissioner Ricky Jones, 49, of Eastpoint, is squaring off against 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.

In the only school board race this year, two Eastpoint educators will be vying Tuesday in District #1 to replace the retiring George Thompson.

Tara Elizabeth Klink, 31, and Melonie Kay Inzetta, 63, are squaring off in the non-partisan August 18 primary for a chance to represent the district.

Both women have raised a modest amount of money for their campaigns, with Inzetta reporting about $1,400 and Klink $1,200. Both have loaned money to their own campaigns, and raised a variety of small donations.

In the county commission race, Jackel has amassed campaign coffers of about $13,500, considerably more than Jones’ roughly $3,000 war chest. Both candidates have provided their campaigns with personal financial support.

The largest single donor to Jones’ campaign has been Apalachicola restaurateur Bev Hewitt, who donated $600. The largest donors to Jackel’s campaign have been three $1,000 contributors, which include individual donations from St. George Island-based property manager George Kirvin Floyd and from Robert Flowers, president of C.W. Roberts Contracting, Inc. in Tallahassee, and a business donation from St. George Island Trading Company.

In the other four county districts, voters will have three decisions to make, and if they are among the county’s 3,272 registered Republicans, they’ll have a fourth race to consider.

The election for public defender in the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Franklin and five other counties, will be decided on Tuesday in the Democrat primary, which because only two Dems are running, is open to everyone, regardless of party affiliation.

Incumbent Andy Thomas, 65, of Tallahassee, is facing a challenge from Jessica Yeary, 36, of Tallahassee, for election to a four-year-term.

Thomas was first elected in 2016, in an uncontested race to succeed the retiring Nancy Daniels.

To win the job, which pays roughly $170,000 per year, voters throughout the circuit, which encompasses Franklin as well as Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla counties, have to give one of the two candidates a majority.

In the two non-partisan circuit judge races, in Group 16, Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey, 52, is facing a challenge from Tallahassee attorney Kevin Alvarez, 32, with the one who gets a majority of votes Tuesday the winner.

In the race in Group 4, where there is no incumbent, four candidates are vying for the post – Tiffany Baker, 35; Nina Moody, 52; Amanda Wall, 56; and Pete Williams. 67. If none of the four candidates get more than half the vote to win the primary outright, the top two vote-getters will go on to the Nov. 3 general election.

A judge earns $160,688 annually. See related stories for details on these judicial candidates.

The only other race, and it’s limited to Republicans, is a decision whether to select Marva Harris Preston, of Crawfordville, or Benjamin Horbowy, of Tallahassee, as the nominee to take on Democrat Loranne Ausley in the general election to succeed Bill Montford as state senator for Senate District 3. Preston is the favorite to get the GOP nomination.

Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley said she expects 36 pollworkers, along with her office staff, to work Tuesday’s election, which should cost a total of about $28,000.

She said as of Wednesday morning, 1,549 voters, or about 19 percent, had cast early votes, which she said is pretty typical. That ends this Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Riley’s office is waiting on about $57,000 in federal COVID-19 funding, which is being spent on updating the mail ballot system, now ballot drop boxes, and various supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer.

She said the polling places will be thoroughly cleaned, and voters will use disposable pens. Gloves will be available as an option.

She said absentee ballots are available through Sunday, with a designee able to pick up up to two ballots, with a note and affidavit required if the voter is not an immediate family member.

She said all absentee ballots must be in the elections office by 7 p.m. election night.