Aug. 30 election to be closed primary

OKEECHOBEE — If you want to vote in the primary election in Okeechobee County, you might want to think about switching party affiliation to Republican.

Democrats, Independents and those with No Party Affiliation will have a short ballot at the Aug. 30 primary. All of the local elections will be closed primaries, except school board which is nonpartisan, explained Supervisor of Elections Diane Hagan.

This means the only local election on the ballot for Democrats, Independents and those registered NPA (No Party Affiliation) will be school board.

In the Property Appraiser race, Republicans will chosen between Russ Duncan and D. Robert Wilson. The winner of that primary will face Democrat Steve Cates as well as Sharon Wallace (NPA) and Mickey Bandi Jr., (NPA) in the general election.

In the sheriff’s race, Republicans Noel Stephen and Darryl Stokes will compete in the Aug. 30 primary. The winner will face William Markham (DEM) and Michael Hazellief (NPA )in the general election in November.

In the county commission district 1 race, Republicans Phil Baughman, Mark Brandel, David Hazellief and Keith White will compete in the primary. The winner will face Michael Slayton (NPA) in November.

In the County Commission District 3 race, Republicans Bradley Goodbread and Debra Sales will be on the primary ballot. The winner will face Bobby Keefe (NPA) on the November ballot.

In the County Commission District 5 race, Republicans Frank Cunningham and Kelly Owens will be on the primary ballot. The winner will face Weston Harvey (DEM) in the general election.

Mrs. Hagan said while the county commission candidates must live in the district to qualify to run for that seat, the voters are not confined by district.

All county voters are eligible to vote for all county commission districts (but only registered Republicans can vote in the closed Republican primary.)

The school board race is non-partisan, so all voters can participate in this primary. Those on the ballot for the district 4 School Board seat are Linda Baker, Amanda Fuchswanz, Levi Johnson and Mindy Schoppmeyer. This race could be decided in the primary if a candidate receives at least 50 percent plus one of the votes cast. If no candidate receives 50 percent plus one, there will be a run-off for the school board race in the general election.

All voters in the Aug. 30 election will vote on Amendment 4, which will be on that ballot.

The summary for Amendment 4, which will be on the primary ballot states: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes.

If approved, this amendment would extend the property tax break that homeowners receive now for their solar units to businesses and utilities that have similar installations.

Voters have until Aug. 1 to change party affiliation.

There is still time for more local candidates to sign up to run in the Aug. 30 primary. Qualification to run for local office ends June 24. However, the last day to qualify by petition is May 23, so anyone who qualifies after May 23 would have to pay the qualifying fee, which is based on a percentage of the annual salary of the positions sought.

The 2016 election is bound to bring change to Okeechobee County, since there are no incumbents seeking re-election to local office.

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