The votes have been tallied, and the citizens have spoken, although only a small percentage exercised their right to vote in Tuesday’s primary election.
“There was not very much of a turnout,” said Supervisor of Elections Ann Bodenstein about the 22.75 percent that voted in the primary election. “Everybody’s asking why. We don’t know. But my guess is that some are looking forward to the November election, or they could be remembering the January (presidential primary) election.”
Santa Rosa County has 103,039 registered voters and 23,443 voters went to the polls on Aug. 26.
Several incumbents were unseated in the race, including Tom Stewart, county commissioner for District 1. The race was taken by Jim Williamson, who served as commissioner from 1996 to 2001, when he had to resign because of health problems. In 2004, when Williamson sought his old seat, Stewart beat him by just six votes in the Aug. 31 primary.
Williamson decided to run again because he was not satisfied with the way the government was handling issues.
“Taxpayers deserve the best service possible and I want to give them that,” he said.
Stewart wished all the best to Williamson, who will face Stacia LaDue in the general election Nov. 4.
“It is what it is,” Stewart said about losing the race. “We only had a small percent come out. I worked awful hard in my position, but I am ready to let somebody else have a shot at it.”
John Broxson, an incumbent in the race for County Commissioner District 5, lost the race by just a little more than 200 votes to Lane Lynchard, a Gulf Breeze resident and Navarre attorney. Broxson said he tried his best and is not going to think about the “what if’s.”
“I gave it my best shot, I don’t think I could have done a better campaign,” he said. “I wish him well. The people spoke, so I am not going to have a pity party. It’s about the people and that’s fine with me.”
Lynchard said he was relieved it was over.
“It feels great,” he said. “I am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead. After I catch my breath, I look forward to making a positive difference.”
The end of the primary was the end for many candidates’ campaigns, and as relieved as the candidates are, their families are also ready to be done.
“I finally get to sleep in on a Saturday,” said McKenna Wyrosdick, 13, the daughter of Tim Wyrosdick, the new superintendent of schools.
During Wyrosdick’s speech after hearing the final tally, he thanked all who helped him.
“Thanks to everyone who knocked on doors on Saturday mornings, put up signs and took down signs. Thanks,” he said Tuesday evening. “I feel so blessed. And I will stay in this position as long as Santa Rosa County will let me.”
Stan Colie Nichols is excited to be done with this first part of his campaign, but he knows the battle is not quite over. Nichols led the race with 34 percent of the votes, followed by Jeff Sessions with 28 percent and incumbent Robert McClure with 10 percent.
“I’m excited and very relieved, but more than anything I have been humbled,” Nichols said. “But for the general election I plan to get my message out, I am going to go walking door-to-door and see people face-to-face.”
Nichols will face Democrat Danny Holt in the Nov. 4 primary election.
The primary win for Wendell Hall does not mean victory, but it does mean a little more rest.
“It feels wonderful to have won, I am very happy with the results,” Hall said. “We obviously realize the elections not over, but we are going to scale back our campaign. We will do mail outs to those not able to vote in the primary because of party affiliation.”
Hall will face two write-in candidates, Paul Johnson and William Cutts, in the general election.
The one runoff in Santa Rosa County will take place between Hugh Winkles and Jimmy Brown for the School Board District 2 seat.
Bodenstein explained that in nonpartisan elections, the winner must receive 50 percent plus one vote. Winkles received 49.96 percent, and Brown received 26.85 percent.
Winkles will celebrate his short victory, but it’s back to the campaign trail until November for him.
“It felt good to be oh-so close for it to be over,” he said. “It’s bittersweet. I look forward to the next two months of campaigning.”