All eyes are on the city of Apalachicola, as voters get
ready to flock to the National Guard Armory this Tuesday to decide on the lone
city commission race.
Incumbent Anita Grove, 61, of 174 Avenue C., will face challenger
Amy Hersey, 40, of 451 25th Street, in the Sept. 7 balloting. With only two
candidates, and no write-ins allowed in municipal elections, there will be no
The Sept. 7 non-partisan election will be at
the National Guard Armory. Early voting at the Supervisor of Elections office
in Apalachicola will run through this Saturday, Sept. 4, daily from 8:30
a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Out of a total of 1740 registered voters with the city limits, 1,032 are registered Democrats,
428 Republicans, 38 with small parties, and 241 with no party affiliation at
Lockley, a deputy within Supervisor of Elections Heather Rileys office, said
only 18 voters had cast ballots early, from when it began Saturday, Aug. 28 through
absentee ballots have been robust, with 246 such ballots returned through Tuesday.
These ballots can be mailed, or dropped off at the supervisor of elections
office up until 7 p.m. on Election Day. One place that individuals cannot place
their absentee ballots is in the outside drop box, as recent changes to state
election rules made it impractical to maintain constant surveillance of the box.
have to be handed off inside, said Lockley.
for the last city election in 2019 was better than 60 percent.
following are comments submitted to the Times from each of the two candidates.
I was born and raised in Apalachicola, the city that I love.
I am continuing that tradition by raising my family here. I believe that
together we can make a difference in our community.
Four years ago, I went to a city commission meeting and to
my horror, learned that our city finances were in a mess. I walked away from
that meeting realizing that I could not look the other way. If I did, the city
that I love might be lost forever. I am solely committed to the work we started
two years ago and to you the taxpayer. I am not a career politician, sending
out empty campaign promises and then voting against the very constituents that
elected me. I am running to make sure we are a better-informed citizenry today
than we were four years ago.
Specifically, my focus will be:
- Healthy and Affordable Water: As a mother, I want healthy
and affordable water for not only my kids, but all kids in our community.
- Affordable Housing: I want to see more affordable workforce
housing so families can continue to live and work in the city that they love.
- Common Sense Government: I want a commonsense government
that works for the people, not special interest groups. To reduce the
overreaching ordinances that have become burdensome to our citizens.
- Fiscal Responsibility: I want all citizens to be informed about
health of our citys finances. We must be good stewards of taxpayers money; we
must not jeopardize our fiscal health.
- Advocate for our Youth: As a former teacher, I know the
struggles of the youth growing up in Apalachicola and I want to continue to be
an advocate for them on our commission. The youth of today are tomorrows
We must not stop our efforts now. Our city was on the verge
of collapse, and we have worked diligently to change the trajectory. I will do
all that I can to work to make sure that Apalachicola can flourish once again
for all, while maintaining the historic integrity of our city.
When I joined the commission in October 2017, the city had
defaulted on its wastewater treatment plant loan, was accumulating fines under
a state consent order for drinking water, was on the verge of having the state
take over our water system and had almost no money in the bank. I have worked
diligently with my fellow commissioners and city staff to solve some of
the city’s most serious problems.
Over the past four years:
- We gained control over city finances and hired a financial
director and a city manager to put in place policies that ensure the city
operates within our budget while addressing citizens’ needs.
- We are no longer in default on our
state revolving loan and have made regular payments since 2018. The
loan was renegotiated last year, which reduced our liability by over $800,000,
and the city now pays zero percent interest.
- We have worked closely with the Florida Rural Water
Association and DEP to systematically resolve issues and reduce the
Trihalomethanes (THM) readings.
- We have obtained millions of dollars in grants to help
repair and upgrade our infrastructure. In 2020, we received a $2.33
million grant award to build a new wastewater vacuum station on Market
Street and a $3.6 million award to purchase emergency generators for critical
city facilities and funds to repair stormwater drainage problems downtown.
- We purchased equipment and software to broadcast all of
our commission and CRA meetings, to increase transparency and make it easy for
residents to attend meetings online.
- We are also working to develop housing for our workforce
that they can afford and to diversify our economy
We still have a lot of work to do and some great
opportunities before us. I ask for your vote on Sept. 7.