Local races heat up

Posted on June 23, 2016 by Romi White

With last-minute, write-in candidates signing up and other candidates withdrawing from races and resigning from office to run, it’s been a busy week at the Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections office, leading up to tomorrow’s qualification deadline.

“We’re keeping the website updated as people come in,” said Supervisor of Elections Tappie Villane, who so far is unopposed in her re-election bid.

Other qualified candidates not facing opposition ahead of tomorrow’s deadline are Clerk of Court Donny Spencer, Property Appraiser Greg Brown, District 5 County Commissioner Lane Lynchard, County Judge Robert Hilliard, District 4 School Board Member Jenny Granse and Superintendent of Schools Tim Wyrosdick, whose sole remaining challenger, Navarre resident Paul “Bart” Steele, withdrew from the race this morning.

Tax Collector Stan Nichols is being challenged by political newcomer and fellow Republican Dustin Mathews. Milton residents Joe Pool and Buddy Hinote are facing off to fill the seat vacated by District 2 School Board Member Hugh Winkles.

If no other candidate qualifies by June 24, those races will be officially decided during the August 30 primary election.

However, after several write-in candidates signed up, other races are being extended until the November 8 general election.

According to Villane, write-in candidates force races among members of the same political party to be decided in the August 26 “closed” primary but drag the official decision out until the general election when the winner of a party’s primary faces other candidates.

In the local Sheriff’s race, write-in candidate Chuck Miller in November will face the winner of the Republican primary. Right now qualified Republicans running in the August 30 primary include Bob Johnson, Chris Roper and Robbie Way.

District 3 Commissioner Don Salter is facing fellow Republican Marvin Fowler, who has been unsuccessful in previous bids to unseat the longtime commissioner. Allentown resident Aubrey Penton also signed up June 20 as a write-in candidate for that race but as of press time had not yet qualified.

Yesterday Pace resident Caleb Boudreaux qualified as a write-in candidate for the County Commission District 1 seat, forcing a decision in the ongoing race between Republicans Sam Parker and Mark Cotton to also be decided August 30.