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Election 2020: GOP hopefuls vie for tax collector

David Adlerstein
dadlerstein@starfl.com
The Apalach Times

There was a time in Franklin County when the Democratic primary was where all political offices were decided, since four out of five county voters were registered Democrat.

Commonly, the Grand Old Party didn’t even field candidates for countywide office

But times have changed at a steady pace over the last two decades, so that today, Democrats have only a slight numerical advantage over Republicans, 3,785 to 3,154, with nearly 1,250 of the others registered to vote without party affiliation.

Nowhere is the evidence of this change more striking than in the upcoming race for tax collector, where two Republicans, and none others, have announced their intent to seek the office.

Incumbent Rick Watson, 73, of St. George Island, is seeking a full four-year term, after being elected in 2018 to complete the term of his predecessor, the late Jimmy Harris. He is being challenged by Danny W. Gay, 49, of Apalachicola, and so the two of them will square off in the Aug. 18 GOP primary.

As it stands now, all voters, regardless of party affiliation, will be eligible to vote in that open primary, and the winner will take all. However, a lot can change quickly in politics, and if anyone else should enter the race, it is possible it wouldn’t be decided until the general election in November.

That picture will become clearer during qualifying week, which runs from noon on Monday, June 8 to noon on Friday, June 12.

To be eligible to vote in the primaries, you must be sure to be registered by July 20.

DANNY W. GAY

Friends, Family, and Community Members,

With 23 years of experience in the financial industry, I have been fortunate enough to learn and excel in numerous positions. As a teller, debit card specialists, merchant service representative, branch manager, and market retail leader, I have the necessary qualifications for the position I seek as your future tax collector.

With vast knowledge in financial management and customer service, I know the importance of being more than a man behind a desk or a name above the door. I have not and do not expect my employees to know or do something that I am not willing to put in the work for. I intend to continue my exemplary track record for hands-on customer service and am eager to work for you.

I am a lifelong resident of Franklin County, married to my longtime wife Crystal and the father of our two girls. I have a vested interest to see our community excel and succeed. As the son of Betty and the late John Gay of Apalachicola, my roots and dedication to our area run deep.

I am humbly requesting your vote in the upcoming election for Franklin County tax collector. Let my knowledge and experience work for you.

Remember: “This is your choice, you’re your vote, and your voice.”

RICK WATSON

I want to begin by thanking you for your past support during my 2018 campaign for Franklin County tax collector! As you may recall, I was elected to complete the remaining two years of my predecessor's four-year term. I am running now for a four-year term in 2020 and humbly ask for your support again.

I thoroughly enjoy public service and, most important, am proud of new accomplishments for you and the whole county.

Franklin County citizens can now handle all their driver license needs without traveling to Gulf or Wakulla counties. In fact, my office now processes 2,500 driver license transactions a year. The Carrabelle office now handles concealed weapon licenses, a popular service in our area.

Both the Apalachicola and the Carrabelle offices have been modernized with new computers and a delinquent tax auction via the Internet.

All these new services were accomplished with no increase in staff and no increase in my budget. In fact, my budget has decreased slightly every year I have been in office.

Another program I am very proud to have initiated is the Kids Tag Art competition. For the last three years, in conjunction with the Franklin County superintendent of schools, the Franklin Education Foundation, the tax collector’s office, and generous sponsors, we have conducted a Kids Tag Art competition among fifth graders. Students, competing for small cash prizes, draw a specialty car tag for the front of vehicles. Proceeds from these tag sales benefit art programs in area schools.

My years of experience in government, law, and real estate uniquely qualify me to serve as your tax collector. I am committed to providing the best government for our citizens and am excited about my plans for the next four years. I look forward to hearing from you during the coming weeks. I have been honored to serve as your Franklin County tax collector for the past three years and would appreciate your support and vote on Tuesday, Aug, 18.