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Full ballot: Numerous races on ’12 ballot

By Staff | Jun 11, 2012

In addition to voting for a president, Lee County voters will have much to consider in the coming weeks and months before they cast their ballots, decisions that have much more direct impact on them than “Mitt or Barack.”

They also will have to take into account the new district and precinct lines that have been drawn for this year, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Residents will vote on everything from state representatives to mosquito control board members and much more in the Aug. 14 primary and/or the general election on Nov. 6.

Prospective county candidates had from noon Monday until noon Friday to qualify for the ballot in their respective races.

“How you qualify depends on the position. You need to fill the paperwork, send out petitions, set a campaign account and name a treasurer,” said Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington. “Those that are set up as non-partisan and partisan also pay different fees.”

Harrington, in a non-partisan office, would only pay 4 percent of her salary, whereas someone running for Senate or the House would pay 6 percent of his/her salary.

Harrington, who is up for re-election this cycle, is unopposed.

Something new this year is redistricting, which happens every 10 years just after the Census. Many of the borders have been realigned so that some candidates who ran in one district may now have to run in another.

“Thank God we don’t have to do this (again) until 2020,” Harrington said. “Everything we do is based on precincts. Supplies, equipment, poll workers. It’s a massive production.”

This is bound to create more confusion for the voters than the candidates who, Harrington said, have been watching with a keen eye.

“This will be confusing to the voters. We’ll send out election notices and new voter cards which will explain them,” Harrington said. “You get someone who supports a candidate then learns he doesn’t live in that district. It’s more confusing to a John Q. Public.”

According to Lee County Qualifying Officer Bernie Feliciano, more than 200 candidates submitted paperwork to run for county office, not including those who will run for state or federal office.

The biggest statewide race is the U.S. Senate battle between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and current U.S. Rep., Connie Mack (R-14), assuming Mack can win the Aug. 14 Republican primary against a myriad of contenders.

In the 19th Congressional District for Mack’s old seat, five Republicans are in the mix in the August primary. That includes Cape Coral’s State Reps. Gary Aubuchon, (R-74) and Paige Kreegel (R-72). Tea Party favorite Byron Donalds, Mack-endorsed Trey Radel and Chauncey Porter-Goss of Sanibel are also in the race.

Jim Roach, who was lost to Mack two years ago in the then-14th District, is the lone Democrat and likely November opponent of the primary victor.

In District 17, incumbent Tom Rooney (R-16) could face a primary challenge from Joe Arnold, while William Bronson and Walter Sutton could battle it out in a Democratic primary in August.

More locally, in the state representative races, the 76th District, which includes Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Pine Island and Gasparilla, so far appears to be a battle among Republicans Michael Grant, Ray Rodrigues and Chauncey Solinger, with the winner of the primary facing no opposition as of yet.

In 77, Republicans Chris Berardi and Dame Eagle will face off Aug. 14, with the winner facing Democrat Arvella Clare in November.

In District 78 (Lehigh) there are three GOP contenders, Heather Dawes Fitzenhagen, Jonathan Martin and David Mulicka in the primary. The victor will face has independent Kerry Babb.

In the 79th, Republicans Matt Caldwell and John Larsen Shudlick will appear on the primary ballot, currently unopposed in the general with the state qualifying deadline still pending.

In the state Senate 30th District, Republican Lizbeth Benacquisto will have a primary challenge from Tom Lepine before the winner faces Debbie Jordan in November.

Mulicka, Lepine and Sutton are ruled active, but not yet qualified. The deadline to submit and update documents for state and multi-county races to the state is June 15.

There also are many key local races with four of five Board of County Commission seats up for grabs.

Republican incumbent John Manning will face write-in candidate David Gerard Jr. in District 1 in November.

Four GOPers, Cecil Pendergrass, Doug St. Cerny, Don Stillwell and Warren Wright will vie for Brian Bigelow’s seat in District 2. The victor will face no part affiliation John Sawyer and write-in Neal Moore on the November ballot.

In District 3, Republican incumbent Ray Judah faces Larry Kiker in the August primary, with the winner taking on Charlie Whitehead, no party affiliation, in November.

In District 5, GOP incumbent Frank Mann and Steven Haas will face off in August, with the winner likely facing Matthew Shawn Miller of the Independence Party of Florida in November.

For Lee County Clerk of Court, Republicans Bigelow, who will resign his commission seat to run, and Linda Doggett will face off in the primary. The victor will face Harry Beeman, a write-in candidate, in November.

Property Appraiser Kenneth Wilkinson is unopposed.

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott faces a primary with Republican challenger Tim Fisher, with the winner facing Lee Bushong, no party affiliation, and write-in candidate Christian Meister in November.

For County Tax Collector, Republicans Larry Hart and Kyle Lee will face off in the primary in August. The winner will face James Chandler, no party affiliation, in November. There is no incumbent in the race due to the recent death of Cathy Curtis.

Voters also will decide two non-partisan seats for the Lee County school board.

In District 2, incumbent Jeanne Dozier will face Bob Chilmonik, Victor Dotres and Paul Schafer in the August primary.

In District 3, Les Cochran and Cathleen Morgan will face off, also in August.

For more information on the state and local elections, go to www.election.dos.state.fl.us for the state and federal races and www.leeelections.com for local races.