By Wes Wolfe, Florida Politics
One of the nastier and more-competitive North Florida races not involving a mid-campaign DUI charge — unlike the District 2 race — the campaign for District 4 on the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners has been a rough and personal one, fought across not just western Nassau County, but online on multiple Facebook pages.
On election night, it was newcomer Alyson McCullough with 47.3% of the vote, defeating former Commissioner George Spicer and incumbent District 4 Commissioner Thomas Ford, who garnered 28.3% and 24.4% respectively, in the open Republican Primary.
In a campaign fought largely online in addition to Nassau County neighborhoods, McCullough posted a celebratory update thanking those involved in her “100% grassroots” campaign, and that, “Y’all got a lot of work to do the next four years!”
She won every precinct in the district, though Spicer made it close with a three-point difference at the Callahan Fairgrounds location. Ford’s incumbency advantage and his fundraising ability proved ineffective in breaking through the field in which he was one of two familiar faces.
Like in the District 2 race, debate over development represented by the Riverstone Properties tower proposal became the first big issue. McCullough took out an ad before the Commission vote, indicating Ford’s previous vote on tower restrictions shows he would vote with the developer again, which he did.
Ford said he couldn’t risk putting the county on the hook for millions if they lost the expected lawsuit.
Allegations later arose whether a large corporation involved in Nassau County development was backing a new political action committee and whether that committee supported McCullough.
Regardless of McCullough’s relationship to that company and other political actors in the campaign, company executives did give money to her campaign late in the process, and her campaign benefited from PAC mail pieces, whether she wanted those mailers to go out or not.
Ford, who received a fair amount of developer and builder dollars, elaborated on his feelings about growth at a Nassau County Chamber of Commerce forum. He said the county government’s gone through lengths to make sure western Nassau stays as rural as its residents desire.
Spicer emphasized his anti-tax credentials and his opposition to the ongoing development at Wildlight in his campaign.