It Might Feel Early, But the Time to Seek Office Is Upon Us

By  Suanne Thamm

This year is a crucial political year for the city of Fernandina Beach. After a vote of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) last year, the city’s general election date now coincides with the state primary election to be held on Aug. 20. As a result, the qualifying period for those planning to run for one of the three city commission seats has moved up on the calendar to May, just two months away.

If you or anyone you know plan to seek election to the FBCC, now is the time to get serious. If you don’t get your ducks together to file the required paperwork and pay necessary fees by May 17 at the latest, you will be out of luck.

Caroline Best, the Fernandina Beach city clerk, serves as the city’s elections official. The city’s website, contains detailed information about paperwork and forms required for potential candidates. It also contains a citizen’s handbook providing answers to many questions candidates may have regarding campaigning and finances.

What does “Qualifying” involve? 

In order to have your name placed on the ballot, you must qualify by one of two methods: petition or fee.  “Qualifying Fees” represent the Filing Fee and the Election Assessment Fee. Detailed information on both methods is available on the city’s website:

  1. Petition method: You may qualify by obtaining signatures of one percent (1%) of the total number of registered voters (10,528) in the last city general election which equates to 105 valid petition signatures. If a candidate obtains the signatures of one percent (1%) of registered voters, s/he will not be required to pay the qualifying fee of $540. The deadline for qualification by petition is noon on May 2, 2024. While the $540 qualifying fee is not required, all candidates must pay the election assessment fee of $180.
  2. Fee method: Every candidate for election as a member of the City Commission must file a notice of candidacy with the city clerk during the qualifying period as set by resolution of the City Commission. Upon filing of the notice, all documents required shall be given to the city clerk, and all required qualifying fees shall be paid.  Those opting for this method of qualifying must pay the $540 qualifying fee and the $180 election assessment fee. The period of qualification by fee begins on May 13 at 8 a.m. and ends on May 17 at 5 p.m.

Have any candidates announced so far?

Incumbent commissioner David Sturges has filed for re-election to Seat 2. No challenger has filed. Former commissioner Tim Poynter has filed to seek election to Seat 3, which is currently held by Commissioner Chip Ross. Ross is term limited out, so he will not be seeking re-election. Incumbent commissioner and mayor Bradley Bean has not announced if he will seek re-election to Seat 1. To date, no one else is seeking election to Seat 1.

How does the County Supervisor of Elections factor into city elections?

The city of Fernandina Beach has contracted with the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) to conduct city elections.  The SOE is responsible to the state for voter registration, establishing voting districts and polling places, training poll workers, ballot integrity, and many other important activities. If you are unsure if you are registered to vote, contact the SOE office at

Why was the general election changed to August from November?

In order to avoid a potential December run-off election, the FBCC voted to combine the city general election with the state primary election. If a run-off is needed, it will be held in November along with county, state and federal elections. With this change the city will save the cost of any required run-off election, which generally is poorly attended. The change is consistent with School Board member elections, which are also non partisan and open to all registered Nassau County voters.

However, some have expressed concern that by combining a local general election with a state primary, voters may become confused. City elections are, by Charter, non-partisan. They are being added to what in general has become a Republican primary. There are concerns that non-Republican city voters will not believe they are eligible to vote in this election and therefore will not turn out. Confusion should be eliminated with receipt of the sample ballot, provided by the County Supervisor of Elections before the election. The bottom line: if you receive a sample ballot, regardless of your party affiliation, you are eligible to vote in the election.

“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Thomas Jefferson, Former U.S. President and Founding Father of the U.S.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Mark Tomes
Active Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 month ago

Thanks for this informative article. This city and county desperately need candidates who have a balance of conservation-oriented thinking with a heart towards finding solutions to the problems of a lack of affordable housing for workers in the county and low-cost, reliable public transportation.

Alan Hopkins
Noble Member
Alan Hopkins(@dawaves)
1 month ago

Not voting in a local election because it coincides with the state or national election, really?

Just another straw man created by those with disingenuous arguments that vanish with the light of day.

If someone isn’t smart enough to know whether they can vote or not we are all probably better off if they don’t.

Active Member
1 month ago

America, please stop buying grated cheese! Make America grate again.