Marion County School Board incumbents, King and Browning, will not show up

Qualifying for the 2022 election season ended at noon Friday as two Marion County School Board incumbents decided to leave politics, while a third will go unopposed and automatically get a second term.

In district 2, Don Browning, School Board Member79, texted the Ocala Star-Banner Thursday night, stating “I’m retiring.”

“I have decided to retire at the end of my term,” wrote Browning, whose term ends in mid-November. “(I) will spend time with my family.”

Meanwhile, in District 5, two-term school board incumbent Kelly King said Thursday she will not run again. King said “eight years is enough” and “it has been a true honor to serve Marion County Public Schools and our students.”

King’s eight years in office have been the longest of any current board member.

“I believe in term limits,” King noted, adding that she almost didn’t run for a second term in 2018. new ideas.”

No one qualified Friday to race against school board member Nancy Thrower in District 4. Juan “Tito” Ocasio III had pre-filed to race against Thrower, but did not seek to officially qualify. for the race before the Friday noon deadline.

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“You know we had so many challenges in my first term, with the transition to our first appointed superintendent,” Thrower said. “And then we went straight to COVID. So it was anything but a typical first term, but we’re battle tested, not battle fatigued.”

“And with today’s political climate, especially when it comes to the school board in particular, having the broad support of the community to be able to walk away unopposed is incredibly humbling,” Thrower said. “I’m super grateful.”

Browning was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis in August to replace Beth McCall, elected in 2020. She had to leave her seat in May 2021 after selling her house and leaving the district she had served since 2016.

In district 2, Marion County Teacher Lori Conrad, 50and School District Dean Joseph Suranni, 49, are the only two candidates who qualified for that seat, meaning the winner will be decided in the Aug. 23 primary.

If three people are running for a seat on a school board, the winner must get 50% plus one vote to win. Otherwise, the top two candidates will go to the general election ballot on November 8 to decide the race. A race for two is decided during the primary.

Don Browning, who ran for the Marion County commission in 2016, was appointed to the Marion County school board to replace former board member Beth McCall, who resigned in May.

The District 2 seat is up for a special election this year. There will be another election when the four-year term officially comes back on the ballot in 2024.

In District 3, School Board President Eric Cummings will face Steve Swett, retired postmaster of Dunnellon. The winner will be decided in the August 23 primary.

In District 5, preschool operator Sarah James, 32, and responsible for equestrian breeding Taylor Smith, 24will face off on August 23 to see who will replace King.

Marion County Commission

Marion County Commission incumbent Kathy Bryant was the only party-affiliated candidate to qualify in District 2. Gina M. Capone qualified as a write-in candidate, meaning the race will be decided on November 8.

No written candidate has ever won an election in Florida. Republicans and Democrats in the state use the write-in candidate loophole to prevent people from an opposing party from voting in their party’s race.

Florida law states that if all candidates in a primary ballot have the same party affiliation, with no opposition from the other party on the general election ballot, voters of all parties are permitted to vote at the primary.

County Commissioner Kathy Bryant

But the law also allows candidates to qualify as a write-in candidate for a specific party without signing a petition or paying a fee like traditional candidates. And in doing so, he limits the vote to this one party, in this case the Republicans.

By having written candidates, only Republicans will also decide a five-person field for the county commission in District 4, a seat currently held by Carl Zalak III.

In the primary, Zalak will face small business owner Keith A. Poole and former Ocala Police Department officer Rachel Sams on Aug. 23. .

Marion County Board Members Election Supervisor Wesley Wilcox, County Attorney Guy Minter and Judge James McCune, left to right, watch as election workers work to recount ballots at the Electoral Center in the Marion County in Ocala, Florida on Monday, November 12.  , 2018. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Star-Banner] 2018.

These written candidates are Brian Christian Donnelly and Seth Posner.

It will be a closed-door election where only Republicans can vote. Currently, Marion County has 122,392 residents registered as Republicans, or 46.3% of the county’s total registered voters.

That means 142,186 voters, including 78,372 registered Democrats and 63,814 registered as independents or others, will not be able to vote in any county commission races in 2022.

Other local offices on the ballot

• Soil and water conservation: District 3, Brent London; and District 5, Vivi Serena.

• Village Community Development District 4: Seat 3, James “Jim” Murphy; Seat 4, Mark Hayes; and seat 5, Don Deakin (NP) Q

Candler Hills East Community Development District: Seat 1, Robert Scherff; and Seat 5, John D. Bain.

• Indigo East Community Development District: Seat 3, Terrance P. Solan.

State and federal races

Wilcox shared that the searchable Florida Division of Elections website shows that US Representative District 12 is in Marion County. However, this is not the case.

“There’s a census block that’s in the Withlacoochee River that’s technically in Marion County,” Wilcox said. “So there’s no one who can ever live there. The population is literally nil. So they wanted to not include Marion in that neighborhood.”

Wilcox said “they (the state) are making the correction, and it just hasn’t been done yet.”

The following qualifiers are in districts that cover at least part of Marion County, which is larger than Rhode Island.

These are the people who qualified at press time and the story will update early next week if any candidates not listed here are added to the state’s website Friday night.

State Senator, District 9: Rodney Long (R), Keith Perry (R).

State Representative, District 20: Luis Antonio Miguel (R) and Bobby Payne (R).

State Representative, District 21: Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D) and Hollye Merton (R).

State Representative, District 23: Tod Cloud (R), Ralph E. Massullo Jr. (R) and Paul John Reinhardt (R).

State Representative, District 24: Joe Harding (right).

State Representative, District 27: Stan McClain (R).

United States Representative, District 3: Manuel P. Asensio (R), Linda S. Brooks (NPA), Kat Cammack (R), Danielle Hawk (D), Justin Waters (R) and Tom Wells (D).

United States Representative, District 6: Charles E. Davis (right), Joseph “Joe” Hannoush (LPF), and Michael Waltz (right).

Key dates for the 2022 primary election

Voter registration deadline: July 24

Early voting: August 13 to 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mail-in ballot application deadline: August 13, 5 p.m. (must be received by the Office of the Election Supervisor by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted)

Election Day: August 23, polling stations open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Joe Callahan can be reached at (352) 817-1750 or joe.callahan@starbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeOcalaNews.

Key dates for the 2022 primary election

Voter registration deadline: July 24

Early voting: August 13 to 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mail-in ballot application deadline: August 13, 5 p.m. (must be received by the Office of the Election Supervisor by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted)

Election Day: August 23, polling stations open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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