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Marion voters set tone for Florida

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Republicans sweep in county

By Jim Clark

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Marion County voters followed the district, state and national trends Tuesday as Republicans swept the down-ballot votes.

Voter turnout was massive, with 76.66 percent of the registered voters casting ballots.

Billy Woods easily won the office of sheriff, replacing Chris Blair, who withdrew from the race in a plea deal following charges of perjury filed against him. Woods defeated Democrat Dennis McFatten by getting nearly 63 percent of the vote.

"Part of the things of building that trust is making sure we have transparency, making sure we have an open door policy within our community," Woods said after his win. "You know, there are several programs that we've got to ensure that we continue, that's been started. Internal affairs, body cameras, and those types of things that can help us ensure to our citizens to know that our deputies are always doing the right thing out there." 

In the lone contested County Commission, incumbent David Moore was easily returned to office, getting 70 percent of the vote against challenger John Townsend, listed as “no party affiliation.” On his Facebook page, Moore wrote, “Thank you to everyone who voted for us, volunteered, donated, provided sign locations and prayed! Thank you to my wife! Thank you to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….with God all things are possible! Thank you to each of you that supported Team Moore in the fight for what is right!”

Two other primary winners, Michelle Stone and Jeff Gold, easily dispatched write-in candidates. No write-in has ever won county races.

Incumbent David Ellspermann will continue as clerk, getting 65 percent of the vote against Cynthia Moody.

Soil and Water Conservation winners were Thomas Cartwright and Richard McGinley.

In district races, Marion County voters helped elect State Representative Stan McClain (62 percent) over Rick Perry in District 23; state senators Dennis Baxley in District 12 over a write-in, and Keith Perry (63 percent) over Rod Smith in District 8.

In voting for Congress, Marion County went with the winners Ted Yoho, Daniel Webster and Neal Dunn. In the vote for U.S. Senate and president, the county also gave solid majorities to winners Marco Rubio and Donald Trump.

Statewide, all judges on the ballot were approved.

Finally, the county set the tone for the state on the amendments. The amendments on medical marijuana, and tax benefits for veterans and first responder survivors were easily approved both in the county and the state. Amendment 1 on solar power did not get the needed 60 percent in the state although it was approved by the voters, and in the county the result was the same, as 53 percent of the voters approved.

Consumers for Smart Solar – a diverse, bipartisan coalition of business, civic and faith leaders –issued the following statement attributed to its Spokesperson Sarah Bascom regarding Amendment 1 receiving support from more than 50 percent of Florida voters.

“While Amendment 1 fell short of the 60 percent threshold required for approval, it appears that more than half of all Florida voters – including a majority of voters in 47 of Florida’s 67 counties – sent a message that they want solar done the right way, in a manner that protects customers and respects those who choose solar, as well as those who do not.

“This campaign’s purpose was to offer a sensible and fair way to grow the use of solar in Florida as an alternative to our opponent’s amendment, which failed to make the ballot. While we are disappointed with tonight’s outcome, we are pleased that a majority of Floridians recognize the importance of getting solar right.”