Gulf County Supervisor of Elections John Hanlon [ Gulf County SOE ]
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Pierce elected election supervisor with no opposition

John Hanlon, Gulf County’s three-term supervisor of elections, will not be returning for a fourth term, after he decided the last morning of qualifying week, on Friday, June 14, not to run again.
Instead, Hanlon’s assistant supervisor of elections, Rhonda Pierce, will succeed him, after she filed paperwork on that last day of qualifying week and thus will assume office unopposed.
“Because of health reasons I was compelled to not seek another term,” said Hanlon, 55.
Citing privacy reasons, the supervisor of elections declined to detail the circumstances of his medical condition, noting that it was “common knowledge” that he had health issues.
Hanlon, a Republican who was first elected in 2012 after his predecessor Linda Griffin retired, was elected without opposition in 2016 and in 2020, and it was a safe bet that had he chose to run, he likely would have again been elected without facing an opponent.
On his website, Hanlon noted several weeks ago that he had pre-qualified for the supervisor of elections office, a status that usually calls for the candidate to have submitted the necessary petitions, which are 1 percent of the registered voters in the previous general election.
Hanlon did not file the necessary signatures, roughly 1,000, by the May deadline, and so had he chosen to run, he would have had to pay several thousand dollars to qualify during the week of June 10 to 14.
The website did not list Pierce’s name as having pre-qualified for the office, even though Hanlon said last week she had filed the necessary petitions by the May 13 deadline. “She submitted petitions but at the time, she didn’t have all of her stuff turned in,” Hanlon said. “We don’t put it on the website until it is turned in.”
A candidate can collect signatures after he or she has completed Form DS-DE 9, Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository, and they are filed with the filing officer.
Other documents that must be filed to declare intent to run for office are a Statement of Candidate, filed within 10 days of filing DS-DE 9, and attesting that the candidate has read Florida Statutes Chapter 106.
During qualifying week in June, the candidate fills Form DS-De 301SL: Candidate Oath
Form 1 of Form 6, a Financial Disclosure document, and petition certification from the supervisor of elections office that verifies they have met the petition requirements, including the May 14 deadline.
If Pierce’s DSD9 and candidate statement were filed before the May 14 deadline, then petitions received by that time would be considered. Had they all not been filed, then to qualify last week Pierce would have only had the option to pay the filing fee.
Like all the county-wide offices but the sheriff’s office, the supervisor of elections office will not be on either the primary or general election ballot.
Hanlon said that he “heard nothing from nobody” regarding the possibility that due to illness, he might end up not following through on his prequalifying for reelection. “There never was a single inquiry,” he said.
“I’ve given this office 16 years of my life,” he said. “I love my voters and they seem to love me. I wanted to do four more years, but I had to make a decision.”
Hanlon said Pierce started during his second term in office, and has six years experience, “which is more than I had when I ran.”
Hanlon’s terms in office included weathering Hurricane Michael in Oct. 2018, with the storm having wiped out nearly all the polling stations and forcing the need to create temporary sites, at voting supercenters.
As it turned out turnout was in line with other elections.
“We had gone through the primary, but the general election was in just 26 days,” he said. “And then we had three recounts after that.”

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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