Gulf County Republican Sheriff Mike Harrison coasted to victory Tuesday night, swamping Democratic challenger Jobie Barfield, with more than 83 percent of the vote.
In the lone other local race, the non-partisan school board race to fill the seat left vacant since March 2019 by the passing of Billy Quinn. Marvin J. Davis took 53.5 percent of the vote to down Deborah Stallworth Crosby.
Davis had outpolled Crosby by 21 votes, 187 to 166, in the five-person August primary, and increased his margin in Tuesday’s general election, securing 504 votes to her 439 for a 65-vote cushion from all four precincts.
“I just thank God for He made it happen, and so did all the voters,” said Davis, thanking his opponent for running “a pretty good campaign.
“I just want to get to work for the people and look and see what we can do to improve our school system, and to do the will of the people and the will of God,” he said.
A 1974 graduate of Port St. Joe High School, retired from a 30-year career in the Air Force, Davis, 65, spent the last four days, except for Sunday in church, at the polls.
“Asking for support and thanking people for voting,” he said. “I have big shoes to fill. I know I’m ready for the task. I’m not going in thinking I know it all because I don’t.”
After retiring from the military, Davis taught middle and high school math in five different Florida counties, from 2004-19, before returning to his hometown. He said he had a chance to talk with Superintendent Jim Norton on election night.
“I’m going to go in and learn the system, learn what needs to be done and learn their processes and their protocols,” he said. “I know there's a lot that needs to be done, for the common good, the children and our county, and I want to develop a relationship with the other board members. I think we’re going to have a real good relationship.”
In the race for sheriff, Harrison topped all votegetters in Gulf County, including President Trump, by massing a whopping 6,703 votes from all 10 precincts, compared to Barfield’s 1,341 votes.
“I finally can eat a plate of food and relax a little bit,” said Harrison, 52, as he greeted supporters at the sheriff’s office Tuesday night. “I had confidence in the people of Gulf County to choose the best man for the job, and I think they’ve done that.
“Anytime you’ve been through a category 5 hurricane, and the rebuilding that we’re going through now, and all that adversity, you look for experience and a steady hand to guide them through it,” he said.
“We are constantly improving things here at the sheriff’s office as we look towards more accountability in law enforcement,” Harrison said. “The expectations are out there. The majority want to see body camera on law enforcement officers, to add that extra layer of accountability.
“We’ve gone to a new facility here at the sheriff’s office, and we’re proud of that as we continue to make improvements,” he said.
Turnout in the county was brisk, at 75.8 percent, as 8,207 of the county's 10,828 registered voters cast ballots, about 10 percentage points below the record-breaking territory that Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon had sought.
Nearly 3 out of 4 voters preferred President Trump to Democratic challenger Joe Biden, roughly the same percentage they gave to Republican Marva Preston in her bid to defeat Democrat Loranne Ausley in the race for state senator for Florida District 3.
Ausley emerged victorious in the race to replace Sen. Bill Montford, as she won more than 53 percent of the vote. Ausley won more than 62 percent of the vote in Leon County, and 66 percent in Gadsden, as Preston picked up more votes in the other nine rural counties in the district.
State Rep. Jason Shoaf won a full term by a lopsided margin, taking nearly 80 percent of the vote in Gulf County against Democrat Taymour Kahn. The first-term Republican picked up 72 percent of the vote in the 10-county district that stretches west from Taylor County through the Big Bend into Gulf.
Gulf County voters supported five of the six proposed constitutional amendments – with the exception of #2, which would gradually increase the minimum wage in the state to $15. Just shy of 58 percent of county voters said no to the measure, which passed statewide with just over the required 60 percent..
This article originally appeared on The Star: Harrison wins sheriff, Davis school board