As an early voter (I vote at the earliest opportunity afforded to me. always. in person.), I'd like to share the logic behind the way I voted a week ago last Friday. This is an ever-important primary, so I encourage everyone who has not voted by mail or voted early to GET OFF YOUR ASS AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
With that out of the way, here's now I voted for each candidate up for election:
COUNTY COMMISSIONER - DISTRICT 1: Although this is not the first thing on the ballot, it is first in my mind. I cannot stress the importance of this vote enough. It will be a close race, and the winner will no doubt put a drumming on the Republican trotted forth in the general election. I urge everyone to strongly support the candidacy of encumbent MIKE BYERLY. Mike has long championed the conservation angle on pushing our county forward. He had fought tooth and nail, often alone, against developers and others who would have our county turned into another South Florida, with strip malls and urban blight. You may have recieved a mailer a couple weeks back from his challenger, Rick Bryant, talking about his "plan" for Alachua County. If you'll notice, there are no concrete solutions offered in this mailing about this "plan." I'll tell you what Rick Bryant's plan is: to put the business-owner first, no matter what the cost or the size and impact of their business. Our way of life is at stake here, folks. Please don't mess this one up!
SHERRIFF: This is a tough one. Although I believe encumbent Sadie Darnell has done a satisfactory job in her debut half-term as sheriff, I voted for LONNIE SCOTT this time. I work at the Alachua County Jail on a daily basis, so I see the systematic actions of the prison-industrial complex firsthand. While Darnell has brought down the jail population a bit, the same attitude there still remains. When Scott first announced his candidacy, he talked about how he wanted to be the Andy Griffith figure of Gainesville: someone the citizenry would have no problem saying hello to -- or even to approach about a problem, rather than someone with a gun and a badge that instills intimidation and ultimate authority. That speech was really moving for me. Without trying to sound like Joe Biden, let me say that Lonnie is a great family man with upstanding kids that deserve the utmost respect. Darnell just seems a bit distant to me for some reason - but like I said, it's a bit of a toss-up here.
PROPERTY APPRAISER: First of all, I can't believe that this office even has a challenger. What would cause someone to think, "gee, I think I'll challenge the longtime encumbent for the job of property appraiser!" Maybe there's some money to be made in this job because it's certainly not the most high-profile public service job in the county. Needless to say, I voted for ED CRAPO here again. Personally, I don't think our house has been unfairly assessed for property tax purposes. Plus, Ed seems to have done a more-than-competent job thus far. If you want to read what challenger Alonzo Victor Perkins has to offer, please be my guest.
COUNTY JUDGE: First of all, this is an office that lies near and dear to my heart. I will likely have to hear this person on an almost weekly basis at some point because of my occupation. This judge will initially be in the civil division, but they're certainly subject to be moved over to criminal court in the coming years. Since I don't work with private attorneys, I know very little about most of these candidates, but I cast my vote for RHONDA STROMAN. As the youngest candidate of the four, I believe she'll put a fresh perspective on an occupation often seen as dusty and archaic. Another completely competent person for the job would also be Lorraine Sherman, who has supported many progressive and fair causes in the past. With four candidates here, this will no doubt result in a runoff (boy, I'd love to see the voter turnout for THAT election!). I just hope that one of these two candidates makes the cut. I honestly don't have any strong opinions against any of these candidates. These are the two that I've heard the most positive things about, though. The other two candidates are Denise Ferrero and Rob Groeb.
SCHOOL BOARD: I'll keep this short but sweet: EILEEN ROY over Jeannine Murphey Cawthon in District 2 and BARBARA SHARPE over Janie S. Williams in District 4. Why? First, Eileen Roy has fought the tough fight on our school board for education to be done the right way as opposed to the by-the-numbers, no-child-left-behind bullshit that many of the other members feel comfortable in pushing. Sharpe would likely be a staunch ally of Roy's in this endeavor. Plus, the teachers I know that teach in the county recommend both of these candidates.
Don't take my word as gospel by any means, though. I'm just an average joe that strives to be well-informed on these candidates. I put the campaign websites (or at least their respective pitches from the Gainesville Sun) of each candidate above if you wish to do further research. Either way, PLEASE GET OFF YOUR ASS AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Thank you.