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Tax collector race highlights local ballot

With the presidential race in November likely to attract record turnout, and with qualifying now closed, voters in Franklin and Gulf counties still will have several local races to consider, particularly on who will fill their open tax collector seats in both counties.

In Gulf County, Republicans Gail Alsobrook and Ashley Forehand will be squaring off in the August primary, with the winner facing Democrat Candye Lewis in November. The winner will succeed the retiring tax collector, Democrat Shirley Jenkins.

In Franklin County, Republican Amy Braxton Cook and Teresa Ann Martin, a registered Republican who is running without party affiliation, will be facing off in the Nov. 5 general election. The winner will succeed the retiring tax collector, Republican Rick Watson.

The only other constitutional officers on the ballot this year are in Gulf County, incumbent Republican Sheriff Mike Harrison is facing a challenge from Republican Vince Everett. That election will be settled at an open primary, eligible to all voters, in August.

The remaining three other Gulf County constitutional officers, Clerk of Courts Rebecca Norris, Property Appraiser Mitch Burke, and Superintendent Jim Norton, both Republicans, were re-elected without opposition.

In Franklin County, incumbent Republican Superintendent Steve Lanier is facing a challenge from Democrat Jill Rudd. Clerk of Courts Suzanne Michele Maxwell, and Supervisor of Elections Heather Riley, neither of whom is affiliated with a political party; and Sheriff A.J. Smith, a Republican, were re-elected without opposition.

Republican James Terry Tipton, Jr., who did not face any challengers, will be elected property appraiser, succeeding incumbent Democrat Rhonda Skipper.

In Gulf County, incumbent Republican county commissioner Phil McCroan was re-elected without opposition. Incumbent Republican David Rich faces a challenge from Republican Christopher “Spike” McLemore; incumbent Republican Jack Husband faces challenges from Republican George “Buddy” Cooper and Republican John Murnan; and incumbent Republican Patrick Farrell is being challenged by Republican Randy Pridgeon.

Each of those three elections will be settled by an open primary in August, in which all voters can cast ballots regardless of party affiliation.

Franklin County Commissioner Republican Jessica Varnes Ward was re-elected without opposition, but two other commission seats remain up for grabs, with incumbent Republican Ricky Jones facing a challenge from Republican Russell Turner, with that election to be decided by an open primary in August.

In the open seat vacated by the death of Democrat Noah Lockley, the incumbent Republican appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Anthony Croom, will face Democrat Elinor Mount-Simmons in November.

For the Gulf County School board, Matt Terry was elected without opposition to succeed outgoing Cindy Belin. In the other contested race, incumbent Marvin Davis is facing challenges from Equillar Gainer, Charles Gathers and Heather Jones.

In Franklin County, all three of the school board members, Melonie Kay Inzetta, Fonda Davis, Sr. and Jared Michael Mock were re-elected without opposition to their nonpartisan posts.

Both county judges, in Gulf County Tim McFarland and in Franklin J. Gordon Shuler, were re-elected without opposition.

Republican State Rep. Jason Shoaf was re-elected without opposition, while State Sen. Corey Simon, a Republican, will face off in November against the winner of a Democratic primary between Daryl Parks and Kimblin Nesmith.

Congressman Neal Dunn, a Republican, faces a challenge from Republican Rhonda Woodward, with the winner facing Democrat Meghann Hovey.

State attorney for Circuit #2 Democrat Jack Campbell was reelected without opposition, while in Circuit #14 incumbent Republican Larry Basford faces a challenge from Republican Eric Garmon.

In both circuits, the public defenders, Democrat Jessica Joan Yeary and Republican Henry Mark Sims were reelected without opposition.

In Wewahitchka, both city commissioners, Ralph Fisher and Brian Cox were reelected without opposition.

In Carrabelle, both incumbent city commissioners, Tony Millender and Keith Walden, were re-elected without opposition. Newcomer Vance Pedrick was elected to the commission without opposition.

The race to replace the retiring Brenda La Paz will be between Sebrina Brown and Danyelle Robinson.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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