The Franklin County commission race in District #2 in the eastern end of the county, often a quiet affair, is far from it this year.
That’s because the Republican primary this Tuesday, Aug. 23 has seen an influx of campaign donations unrivaled for that district, and a vigorous three-way contest between the incumbent, a former county commissioner and a newcomer to county politics.
Because no Democrats or those with no party affiliation filed for the seat, the primary will be open to all voters within the district as they decide who out of the Republicans vying for the seat should take home the prize – to represent the residents of Alligator Point, Lanark Village and the eastern portion of Carrabelle.
Whoever gathers the most votes will be the winner; there is no run-off between the top two finishers.
The election pits incumbent commissioner Bert Boldt II, 76, who resides at 1 Eagle’s Way at St. James Bay, against former commissioner Cheryl Sanders, 66, who resides at 4901 Jeff Sanders Road in Carrabelle, and newcomer Christopher Paul Crosby, 43, of 330 Hickory Hammock Road in Carrabelle.
Sanders, whose husband Oscar passed away earlier this month, said it was his wish that she stay in the race, and she has done so.
The job pays $28,973 per year.
The money has been flowing in from the start of the campaign, for a total of more than $33,000. At the date of the last report, Boldt had gathered in $17,319, with Crosby securing $10,270 in donations and Sanders $5,845.
The demographics in the district show that among 1,734 registered voters, 890 are Republican, 500 are Democrats, 305 are without party affiliation and 40 are registered with other, smaller parties.
The district is split nearly equally between males and females and is overwhelmingly white, with fewer than 6 percent identifying as Black, Hispanic or other.
The district also leans heavily on the senior side, with more than 42 percent over the age of 66, and a total of 55 percent over the age of 61.
While there are no other local races in the other five districts, Democrats and Republicans will be voting to decide who they want to represent them in the general election.
Members of the GOP will choose between State Senator Wilton Simpson and farmer James Shaw for the nod to run for Agriculture Commissioner, with Simpson the favorite to win.
Democrats will have to decide among Val Demings, Brian Rush, William Sanchez and Ricardo de la Fuente to see who will take on U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the fall, with Demings, a congresswoman from Central Florida the favorite.
Dems will decide between former governor Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried to see who will take on Gov. Ron DeSantis in the fall, with Cadance Danielk and Rober Willis also in the running.
The Democrats attorney general race pits Aramis Ayala, Jim Lewis and Daniel Uhlfelder against one another, while the Agriculture Commissioner race has Naomi Esther Blemur, J.R. Gaillot and Ryan Morales running against each other.
Supervisor of Election Healther C. Riley said that her office mailed out 2,122 Vote By Mail ballots and had received back 604 as of Monday afternoon. They must be received at the Apoalachicola elections office or the Carrabelle annex by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23 in order to count.
Among early voters, 126 had cast ballots as of Monday afternoon. Early voting continues through Saturday at 5 p.m. at both locations.
Riley said she did not expect countywide turnout to approach the 56 percent seen in 2018, although she did say that she expects balloting to be heavier in District 2, where voters cast ballots at the Carrabelle senior center, at Chillas Hall in Lanark Village and at Mission By The Sea church in Alligator Point.
One change in Apalachicola is that those in precincts 3 and 4, who had voted at the National Guard Armory, will now be casting ballots at the Holy Family Senior Center.
Balloting on Tuesday runs from 7a.m. to 7 p.m.