Two races contested for Fernandina Port Authority, Mike Cole unopposed

By Wes Wolfe
June 21, 2022

OHPA Commissioner Scott Hanna drew opposition from former County Commissioner Justin Taylor.

There can be high barriers to launching a campaign with a chance of success, but that doesn’t apply to every race on the ballot.

Three seats on the Port of Fernandina’s Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA)are on the ballot this year, and Commissioner Mike Cole, in District 5, received the easiest path to re-election. No one filed against him, while he raised no money and spent no money.

That’s not the case in the two other seats up for election, however. Commissioner Scott Hanna is mounting a re-election bid in District 3. There is also an open seat in District 4 that drew three contenders.

Hanna first won election to the Port Authority in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Commissioner Adam Salzberg 50.6%-49.4%, a difference of 200 votes among the 16,140 cast. Hanna made Port transparency a central part of his 2018 campaign, and transparency issues continue to be a problem between OHPA and the Port operator, Nassau Terminals.

Hanna loaned his campaign $3,000 in May and spent more than that over the past months, leaving the campaign in the red by nearly $380. He faces Justin Taylor in the open Republican Primary.

Taylor, a former Nassau County Commissioner, was recently named as one of Nassau County’s “40 under 40” by the local News-Leader and Nassau County Record newspapers. He left the County Commission to run for Supervisor of Elections in 2020. Janet Adkins won a close three-way race by 240 votes over Taylor. Stan Bethea came in third with 156 fewer votes than Taylor.

Taylor’s only contributions came from Fernandina Beach consultant Larry Williams — $500 in May. He has yet to spend any of it, according to the report.

Carrol Franklin is not running again for the District 4 seat, opening it up for Nate Bell, Kyle Caswell and Ray Nelson, none of whom show any campaign finance activity so far, or have much of a campaign web presence. That race will also be an open GOP Primary, as all three qualified candidates are Republicans.