The Voice of the Gem City

Nov. 4, 2020

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

Election 2020 in Putnam, Flagler and St. Johns counties saw record numbers thanks to early voting, mail-in ballots and on Tuesday in-person voting. Election officials reported a 70.55 percent turnout In Putnam County, 84.21 percent in St. Johns and 78.66 percent in Flagler County. President Donald Trump won in all three counties. U.S. Rep. John Rutherford retained his 4th Congressional seat, defeating former TV anchor Donna Deegan with 61 percent of the vote. Republican Kat Cammack won the 3rd Congressional District seat, beating Adam Christensen. She’ll be familiar with the Washington scene, having worked for retiring Rep. Ted Yoho. U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, District 6, also will be returning to Congress after easily beating his Democratic opponent. In Florida Legislature elections for the area, Travis Hutson retained his Senate seat as did Cyndi Stevenson, Fl. House District 17 Bobby Payne Florida House District 19 and Paul Renner, Florida House District 24. At this point, all election results are unofficial.

In Flagler County, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland won a second term in a hard-fought race. On the Palm Coast Council Nick Klufas also won re-election. New to the council will be Ed Danko and Victor Barbosa. Sheriff Rick Staly, a Republican, won reelection defeating Democrat Larry Jones. Flagler County Commissioner Donald O’Brien kept his District 5 seat despite two challengers. Andy Dance, who has been on the school board, will now step in to the District 1 County Commission seat that incumbent Charlie Ericksen decided not to seek again.

In St. Johns County Sheriff’s candidate Rob Hardwick took about 95 percent of the vote to easily defeat write-in candidate Scott Boutwell. In the St. Johns County Commission District 1 race Christian Whitehurst, who defeated incumbent Jimmy Johns in the primary, continued his winning trend beating Joe McAnarney. District 5 County Commissioner Henry Dean won re-election beating Merrill Paul Roland. Ernesto Torres defeated Maggie Kostka for the City of St. Augustine Beach Commission 1 Seat. St. Augustine vice mayor/commissioner Leanna Freeman lost to Flagler College professor Barbara Blonder. Commissioner Roxanne Horvath kept her job on the St. Augustine Commission. Those changes may be linked to the recent decision to move the Confederate obelisk from downtown and feelings remain high. Horvath had voted against moving it, Freeman voted to move it.

In Putnam County, incumbents ruled with Sheriff Gator DeLoach winning re-election with nearly 80 percent of the vote and School Superintendent Rick Surrency defeated his challenger with about 72 percent of the vote. Republican Terry Turner retained his District 3 County Commission seat defeating two challengers. The Group 3 Palatka City Commission seat long held by Mary Lawson Brown was up for grabs after she decided not to seek re-election. With 56 percent of the vote Willie “Slurb” Jones, a bail bondsman, beat David Parsons for that seat. Both are political newcomers. Michele Myers beat current Crescent City Mayor Brett Peterson and Craig Oates to win that job. Cynthia Burton won the Group 3 Crescent City Commission seat. Pomona Park Mayor Joseph Svingala Sr. kept his seat. Also voted back in James Griffin, Pomona Park Town Council Seat 5, who was challenged by Joseph Svingala Jr. But the nail biter of the night was the race for Pomona Park Town Council Seat 6. Forest Bud Eckels won it by two votes.

Meanwhile, the world keeps turning and there’s other news besides elections.

St. Johns County will see some changes in education. Flagler College President Joe Joyner has announced he’ll be retiring “for personal reasons” June 30, 2021, the end of the 2020-21 academic year. For 14 years he was superintendent of St. Johns County schools before being tapped to be the college’s president in 2017. At Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, Tracie Cascio Snow has been named president of the school. Snow has worked at the school for 25 years and has been administrator of instructional services.

Putnam County Board of Commissioners meets at 2 p.m. today in a special called meeting at 2 p.m. to go over an update on the status of the CARES Act. The federal money is to fund various coronavirus related expenses for government entities, businesses, non-profits and individuals. County staff is seeking clarification and input on several requests.

Florida Department of Health in Flagler County reported one new coronavirus related death Tuesday bringing their total to 41. In addition 12 new coronavirus cases were reported bringing Flagler’s total since counting began in March to 2,205. Putnam reported 10 new cases for a total of 2,426. St. Johns County reported 62 new cases for a total of 6,782.

Times running out to get your tickets for chicken dinners at the annual St. James United Methodist Women’s bazaar this Friday. The annual dinner is a 40 plus year tradition. Call 386-328-1461 for tickets. The bazaar is Friday and Saturday at the church fellowship hall across from the Putnam County Courthouse in downtown Palatka.

The Palatka Daily News has asked us to tell listeners that a software failure early this morning led to their inability to produce a printed copy of today’s newspaper on its normal schedule. The problem is being corrected and the printed edition will be out later today. Meanwhile, all content from today’s edition is available free online at newspaper apologizes for the inconvenience, according to Regional Publisher Michael Leonard.

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