Seven municipal candidates that ran for office don’t have to bother breaking campaign signs out this year. When the window for qualifying for April’s Super Tuesday elections ended, they found …
Seven municipal candidates that ran for office don’t have to bother breaking campaign signs out this year. When the window for qualifying for April’s Super Tuesday elections ended, they found themselves without opposition.
Last year’s Super Tuesday election saw two contested races, while 2017 had four.
In Keystone Heights, Tony Brown, a former mayor and council member will replace Steve Brown, no relation, in Seat 1. Tony Brown stepped away from city government in 2017 to give more attention to his business. He said a council seat would have fewer obligations and appointments than a mayor. Vandalism was an issue he wanted to tackle, but he said the city was operating smoothly.
“I’m honored to do it,” Tony Brown said. “It’s something I’ve enjoyed doing for quite some time.”
At Steve Brown’s final meeting Monday, he said city government took time away from his work and family. He served one three-year term and thanked city council members and staff.
“It’s so easy when you get into this to say, ‘I want to do this, this and this,’” Steve Brown said. “But you actually see what all is required, between the state and city charter, it’s not simple at all. I’ve been telling people this is something everyone should try to do at least once in their life because you really do get a respect for the people who make a career out of it.”
Marion Kelly remains in Seat 2 as she was unopposed. She is entering her second three-year term. She said she is pleased with the rails to trails programs and events for kids.
“I want to make sure Keystone Heights stays a good city,” Kelly said.
Orange Park Town Council Member Connie Thomas will retain Seat 4 unopposed and U.S. Navy veteran Randy Anderson will assume Seat 5 from Mayor Gary Meeks, whose is term-limited after serving three, three-year terms.
As a newcomer to politics, Anderson said he wanted more businesses and support for businesses within the town limits. Anderson said he was disappointed he didn’t face opposition.
“I wanted that experience to get out there. My plans are still to go meet more residents and get their support, but it’s after the fact now,” Anderson said. “That (experience) was kind of taken away from me.”
Thomas said not having an opponent felt good and reflected the work of the town the past few years. She said town council members have a large responsibility and havr to look out for residents.
“One thing that became clear to me is how much good an elected official can do. I feel like there’s so many things an elected official can do that can impact people’s lives,” Thomas said. “As long as I can do that and the people have confidence in me, I’m going to do it. It really has been an eye opener.”
Green Cove Springs had three council members running unopposed. Current Vice Mayor Steven Kelley and Mayor Connie Butler will enter their second terms.
Seat 4 Council Member Van Royal will serve his final three-year term unopposed. Royal said no opposition was a sign of relief, so officials could focus on handling the city’s growth.
“As a candidate, everybody wants to run opposed, but in reality, you want to have a good race and a good discussion,” Royal said. “It’s going to be exciting three years with the city. I’m glad I got to be a part of it.”
Kelley, who serves in Seat 5, compared no political race to a barometer on how the city is doing.
“Hopefully it’s a message the city thinks we’re doing our due diligence,” Kelley said.
He thanked staff for helping him along, wading through layers of government and with the city’s history. He said it could be heartbreaking to leave in six years if he’s elected again three years from now.
“I definitely have enjoyed it. You’re definitely not in it for the money or the glory because we’re a small town,” Kelley said. “You have to be passionate about the city and the way it’s moving forward.”
Butler, who serves in Seat 3, said running unopposed showed the community has confidence in the council’s performance. She was voted mayor by council members last year.
Like Royal, she points to the coming First Coast Expressway and housing developments as reasons the council needs to stay alert.
“We want to be ready,” she said.