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The speeches and sign waving should all end Tuesday — at least for Levy County voters and local candidates. But a large number of folks are being heard early.
As of Tuesday morning, Supervisor of Elections Connie Asbell said 1,333 voters had taken advantage of voting early.
“The canvassing board meets tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and they will open 3,394 absentee ballots that have been returned.“ Asbell said her office sent out about 5,500 absentee ballots.
“This is the highest it's been so far,” Asbell said of the early and absentee voting.
The county has 25,110 registered voters, with Democrats holding a slight lead, 10,540 over Republicans who have 10,322 voters. There are 4,248 voters registered as Independents, other party affiliations and no party affiliation.
This will be Asbell's last election as she is retiring from office. Her replacement, Deputy Supervisor Tammy Jones won election in the Republican primary Aug. 14 against Brooke Ward. No Democrat qualified for the office.
Polls will be open from 7 a..m. To 7 p.m. Tuesday. But before then, voters will be able to cast ballots in early voting at the Supervisor of Elections Office at 421 S. Court St., Bronson.
Early voting is 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Due to a change in state law, there will not be any early voting on the Sunday before the election.
The local races that will be decided by the close of balloting on Tuesday are:
• Sheriff — Bobby McCallum, who has lost two bids for office, is facing off against newcomer Lee Sullivan. McCallum is a former Levy County Sheriff's major who was ousted after the 2004 elections when he supported a losing candidate against Sheriff Johnny Smith who is retiring. McCallum won the Republican nomination in a bitterly fought race against Levy County Sheriff's Maj. Evan Sullivan that still has left hard feelings on both sides. Marion County Sheriff's Maj. Lee Sullivan, no relation to Evan Sullivan, is running as a “no party affiliation” candidate. In the general election campaign, McCallum and Lee Sullivan have been touting their law enforcement experience and education — both have bachelor's and master's degrees.
• County Commissioner, District 1 — Bronson businessman John Meeks, a Republican, faces off against restauranteur Jamie Griffin, a Democrat. Meeks operates the Ace Hardware in Bronson while Griffin, who resigned as mayor of Bronson while facing conviction on stealing from the city, operates four restaurants in Levy and Dixie counties. Both have pledged that if elected they will revisit the issue of increased fire and EMS assessments.
County Commissioner, District 3 — Commissioner Mike Joyner, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the District 1 seat, is running for his home district seat as a Republican against Al Macri, who owns electronics and liquidation businesses, a Democrat. Joyner is a retired deputy who operates a family cow-calf operation. The seat is being vacated by Marsha Drew, appointed in 2009 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to replace Sammy Yearty who was convicted of soliciting and accepting a bribe and lying to the FBI.
• School Board District 2 — Chris Cowart and Kyle Quincey face off in this nonpartisan race. Cowart, who has coached and taught school, has stressed his ties as a coach and volunteer to Cedar Key School, the one school in the district, while Quincey has stressed his credentials as a teacher and his ties to the community as well.
• County Clerk — Wilbur Dean, is the Republican candidate against incumbent Danny Shipp, a Democrat. Dean, a cattleman, is a former county commissioner who lost to Tony Parker, who has since been convicted of soliciting and accepting a bribe from an undercover FBI agent. Shipp was first elected in 2000.
• School Superintendent — Bob Hastings, a Republican, will face retired teacher Cindy Roach, a Democrat. Hastings, a former teacher and principal, first won election in 2008. Roach is the former teacher's union president, something Hastings has made an issue in the campaign. He has also touted his experience in seeing the schools through massive cuts due to the poor economy. Roach has campaigned saying her experience as an educator and negotiator will help her make schools better for students and teachers.
• Congressional District 3 — This newly drawn district saw the ouster of 24-year Congressman Cliff Starnes in the Republican primary. Veterinarian Ted Yoho, a favorite of the Tea Party branch of the Republican party, won the nomination. He faces Philip Dodds of Alachua who has no party affiliation and businessman J.R. Gaillot of Fleming Island, a Democrat, who has been touting his conservative credentials.
• U.S. Senate — Incumbent Bill Nelson, a Democrat faces Republican Connie Mack, a congressman from Miami. This race featured a bitter debate between the candidates that was televised live statewide and a number of negative TV ads.