Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Election Results Made Easy

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The primaries are over. Not too soon for some, while others may have wished for a couple of more days to turn the tide. We will mostly be letting the results speak for themselves. The County-wide sales tax, which blew up like an atom bomb, deserves special attention and a brief analysis.

Sales Tax

After months of flim flam, town halls by a collective of the County 5, the Sheriff, and the County staff, which in the end had Chairman Murphy and Commissioner Ron Williams competing with separate tax reduction schemes after it was clear that most of the public wasn't buying any of it, Columbia County's voters showed that they weren't as gullible as 4 of The 5 figured they were.

After watching County Manager Ben Scott trying to explain The 5's bifurcated tax and budget schemes, one familiar with the inner workings of the County could only conclude that Mr. Scott was being used as the water boy for both the County 5 and Sheriff Hunter and his new, grandiose jail scheme, which when the real population numbers of the jail were added up, didn't match the numbers of Sheriff Hunter and his jail brigade. And yes, the jail is old and does need some work. Nobody denies that.

In the end, the pitiful sleight of hand had folks reeling with vague explanations and the realization that the Transportation Trust Fund was a "Trust" Fund that just couldn't be trusted.


State Representative

Marc Vann, a local Lake City business owner, and a genuinely nice man, was beaten by Chuck Brannon, a Republican leader, a long time member of the Governor appointed Florida Gateway College Board, and politician.

County Commissioners

District 2 was a squeaker with first time candidate Rocky Ford coming out at the last minute with just over 50% of the vote. He is the next District 2 commissioner.

District 4 had three time challenger Toby Witt against incumbent Everett Phillips. Mr. Witt showed that persistence paid off and defeated Mr. Phillips, who had beaten him in his last outing.

City Council

In district 10, many folks were predicting a win by Vanessa George in her first run against long time incumbent Eugene Jefferson. Many folks underestimated Mr. Jefferson, including this reporter. Mr. Jefferson pulled it out by 21 votes.

In District 14, long time city councilman Georg Ward decided not to run for another term, trading in his City Council seat for one over looking the mountains.

This left the race wide open. Political neophyte Chris Greene won in his first time out against two seasoned African American candidates in this predominately white district.

School Board

Both school board races are headed to the general election in November.

Arguably, these are the two most important County races, as it is a well know axiom that "the school district is the anchor to the community."

Lack of workforce development, the devolvement of the High School Aviation Academy, a Logistics Academy and program that has disappeared into oblivion, dangerously over-crowded school busses, and a district that has been chronically unable to prepare its students for the basics of job interviews and expectations, and the recent School Board Attorney fiasco, are just some of the issues that will be facing the school district board members.

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