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Local Offices Land in Familiar Hands

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

While the presidential race garnered most of the attention, there was some down-ballot action Tuesday across the western Florida Panhandle.

Incumbents for the most part had a big night Tuesday, but the exception to that was Century Mayor Freddie McCall – who lost his re-election bid to Henry Hawkins by a 59-41 percent margin.

“I think the people wanted a change, and were tired of the status quo,” said Hawkins.” A lot of people are taking a chance on new blood, doing something different and better.”

Voters in Pensacola and Escambia County returned a number of incumbents to their seats. P.C. Wu, Jewell Cannada-Wynn won their races going away. Lumon May is returned to the Escambia County Commission, where he’ll be joined by newcomer Jeff Bergosh, who is moving from one county office – on the Escambia School Board – to the County Commission.

“Getting used to dealing with constituents and their concerns, and the different ways the reach out to you,” Bergosh said. “I think I’ve got a decade of doing that.”

Clay Ingram won a second term in Florida House District-1 Tuesday evening, defeating NPA candidate Bill Fetke. With the election behind him, Ingram says he’s setting his sights on the 2017 legislative session.

“Focus on the economy, creating a climate in Florida and the Panhandle were job creators can come and not be bothered with much regulation and excessive taxation,” said Ingram.

Malcolm Thomas will remain Escambia County’s School Superintendent, the Republican defeating Democrat Claudia Williams 65-35 percent. After winning a second term four years ago, Thomas had indicated he would not seek a third term as superintendent. So, what changed his mind?

“Two things,” said Thomas. “One, construction of the schools in the mid-portion of the county, and all the dominoes that will create, where West Florida [High School] moves to the Woodham [Middle School] campus. And Vision 2020; being able to put the Chromebooks and all the technology in the classroom.”

Elsewhere, Republican Matt Gaetz is heading to Washington. He defeated Democrat Steven Specht to succeed retiring Cong. Jeff Miller. Others racking up wins Tuesday include Republican Frank White in Florida House-2; and David Morgan, who wins a third term as Escambia County Sheriff.