2018 Primary Election Day approaching

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 8, 2018 4:00 p.m.

This year Florida voters will face many decisions when they enter the voting booth – or mark their mail ballots.  There is a potential for much change, since term limits have kicked in for our sitting governor, who is now challenging Bill Nelson to represent Florida in the United States Senate.  But before the final decisions can be made regarding who will represent us in Congress or Tallahassee, we must first get through the primary elections, which can be confusing and often counterintuitive.  [For example, why would non-partisan School Board races be decided during partisan primary elections?  Don’t ask.  It’s Florida.]

The Florida Primary Election will take place on Tuesday, August 28, 2018.  Early voting will be available between August 17-25.  If you intend to vote in the Primary Election, you must be registered by July 30, 2018.  That is also the deadline for changing party registration.  All information regarding voter registration, election dates, polling places, mail ballots, etc. is readily accessible on the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections website: www.votenassau.com.

The qualifying period for Fernandina Beach City Commission races will begin July 9, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. and remain open until July 13, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.  Two candidates – incumbent Roy G. Smith and challenger Mike Lednovich — qualified by the petition deadline of June 29, 2018. Bradley M. Bean has also filed to run for Group 4.  Incumbent Commissioner Len Kreger has filed his intent to seek reelection to the Group 5 seat. No challenger has filed to run for this seat.  City Commission races are non-partisan and will be decided in the November 6 General Election.

The qualifying period for County races closed on June 22, 2018.

With respect to Nassau County elections, it appears once again that no Democrat has opted to run for a local office.  This means that many of the races will be decided in the primary as two or more Republicans face off against each other.  If there is no other candidate in the race, the “primary” will become an open election where those of any party – or no party affiliation – may vote.  That is apparently the case in the race to replace retiring Commissioner Steve Kelley in District 2, where two Republicans have qualified:  Aaron Bell and Dawn Hagel.

The situation for District 4 County Commissioner is somewhat different.  Incumbent Republican George Spicer is being challenged by Republican Thomas Ford.  But because a write-in candidate – William (Bill) Kruse — has also filed to run in this race, the winner of the closed primary contest between Spicer and Ford will advance to the November 6 General Election to face off against the write-in candidate.  Unless, of course, the write-in candidate withdraws between the primary and the general election.  In such case, the primary winner would be declared the winner of the seat.  But regardless, the only people who may vote in this primary are registered Republicans.

There are 6 Republicans chasing seats on the Ocean Highway and Port Authority this year, two each hoping to represent Districts 3, 4 and 5.  These elections will be open to all registered voters.  Candidates include:

District 3: Adam David Salzburg, incumbent; Scott Hanna, challenger

District 4: Carrol Franklin, incumbent; Jeanne Scott, challenger

District 5: Mike Cole and John C. Van Delinder (incumbent is not seeking reelection)

Another set of elections facing all voters on Primary Election Day is for School Board Districts 1 and 5.  While technically there is a race for District 3, only incumbent Jamie Deonas has qualified, so there is no need for an election.  As mentioned above, School Board elections are nonpartisan. Candidates include:

District 1: Donna Martin, incumbent;  Robin Lentz, challenger

District 5:  Jonathan Petree, incumbent; Lissa Braddock, challenger

Other county races – Amelia Concourse Community Development District,  Amelia Island Mosquito Control District, Heron Isles Community Development District, Amelia National Community Development District, River Glen Community Development District, and Soil and Water Conservation District – are not true contests, since only one person is running unopposed for each available seat.

Candidate contact information is available on the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections website and for city races on the Fernandina Beach website.

Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.