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2022 Midterm Election: Local races

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Escambia County:

Escambia County Commission District 4:

This race features Robert Bender, the Republican incumbent, versus Democrat Myra Van Hoose.

Bender is a native of Pensacola, who has served as an insurance consultant for USI Insurance Services since returning to the area in 2012. Bender scored a resounding victory over Stan McDaniels in the primary. He is seeking his second term in office.

Bender’s top priority issues include addressing public safety needs; improving infrastructure such as stormwater and traffic management; and creating a business-friendly environment to boost economic development.

Van Hoose is a former CPA. Since moving to Pensacola, she has taken on a number of leadership roles in the community including serving as interim director of Achieve Escambia, founding member of the Equity Project Alliance, and appointment to the City of Pensacola Planning Board.

If elected, her three most important priorities are infrastructure, including how to manage flooding and traffic at the beach; ensuring the community is safe; and accountability in government, business and education to improve quality of life.



Escambia County School Board District 2

In this race, incumbent Paul Fetsko is facing a run-off challenge from Raymond Guillory. Fetsko worked for the Escambia County School District for 36 years as an educator.

In the primary, Fetsko received almost 46% of the vote, falling short of the 50% + 1 needed to earn the victory outright. Guillory finished second in the primary with 35% of the vote, while Kells Heatherinton received 19%. The same three candidates ran for the office in 2018 when Fetsko was first elected to the board.

Guillory was a Board Member of Workforce Escarosa and the Treasurer for the NWFL AFL-CIO.

Both of the candidates list school and student safety, and increased teacher pay, as priorities.



Emerald Coast Utilities Authority District 2

This race features Lois Benson versus Chase Anderson “Andy” Romagnano. Benson, a former state legislator, and Pensacola City Council member, has held the ECUA District 2 seat since her appointment to the board by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2004.

Romagnano graduated from Spring Hill College, and previously served on the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee. He qualified to run as a write-in candidate for Escambia County Circuit Clerk and Comptroller in the 2020 General Election.

Escambia County EDATE referendum

This referendum asks Escambia County to vote on whether to extend a 10-year property tax exemption aimed at the recruitment of new businesses and expansion of existing ones.

EDATE stands for Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption. The incentive program was first approved for use in Escambia and the City of Pensacola in 1992 and was last renewed in 2012.

While the exemption does not apply to taxes that go to the Escambia County School District, EDATE allows for a 10-year period of no property taxes to the county, in exchange for some measurable outcomes such as job creation and capital investment.

Pensacola City Council District 2

This race features a run-off between neighbors, Charles Bare and Charletha Powell, who live on the same street. In the August Primary, Bare received 41% of the vote. Powell finished second with almost 26% voter support. The candidates, who have each raised about $18,000, are seeking to fill the open seat being vacated by Councilwoman Sherri Myers, due to term limits.

Bare, a former U.S. Army officer, previously served on the Pensacola City Council. He was elected to the At-Large B seat in 2012 and chosen as council president in 2016.

Powell is a small business owner and community volunteer, who has served on the Pensacola Planning Board and the board of the Florida West Economic Development Alliance.

She is married to Lawrence Powell, who currently serves as Neighborhoods Administrator for the City of Pensacola.



Pensacola City Council District 6

This race features a run-off between Ann Hill and Allison Patton, who were the top two vote-getters in the primary.

Hill, the incumbent, was first elected to the seat in 2018. She lists her top priority as affordable housing. During her time in office, she has also pursued action on stormwater improvement and water quality testing, a stronger tree ordinance, and opening Bruce Beach to the public.

Patton is an attorney, who recently retired from a 32-year career in the Financial Services Industry, primarily with Morgan Stanley. Since retiring, Patton has become actively involved in the Northwest Florida Homeless Reduction Task Force. In addition to economic growth, she says improving public safety is her top priority.

Patton has the advantage monetarily, having raised over $85,000 compared to almost $26,000 for Hill.



Proposed Amendments to the City of Pensacola Charter

Earlier this year, the City of Pensacola underwent a review of its Charter, which is required once every ten years. The review process resulted in five proposed charter amendments that have been placed on the Nov. General Election ballot.

City of Pensacola - Referendum Question No. 1

Shall the Charter be amended to delete, add or revise provisions including the preamble; scope of municipal powers; duties of Mayor and Council Members; removing Council staff; notice of special meetings; computation of time; procedures for adopting Charter amendments and for appointing members to Charter Review Commission; and deleting transitional language from original charter.

City of Pensacola - Referendum Question No. 2

Shall the Charter be amended to provide that City Clerk and City Attorney shall have the sole power to hire, discipline and terminate staff and employees supervised by them and that neither Mayor nor City Council shall interfere with the exercise of that power?

City of Pensacola - Referendum Question No. 3

Shall the Charter be amended to reduce filing fees for candidates for offices of Mayor and City Council; reduce the percentage of signatures needed for being placed on a ballot for either the office of Mayor or City Council; and further reduce, during decennial census years, the percentage of signatures needed for candidates for Mayor or City Council to be placed on the ballot?

City of Pensacola - Referendum Question No. 4

Shall the Charter be amended to provide that the annual salary of members of City Council be set each year by a formula derived from Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, beginning in 2024 and continuing thereafter for each fiscal year that a member is in office?

City of Pensacola - Referendum Question No. 5

Shall the Charter be amended to add a further exception to the powers of initiative for ordinances and of referendum for any measures passed by the City Council regarding the compelling of government speech in a particular manner; and to clarify the timing of and procedures for petitioning for initiative and referendum?

Santa Rosa County

On the General Election ballot, there are two commission races where write-in candidates have been a factor.

Santa Rosa County Commissioner District 2

In this race, Kerry Smith survived the Republican Primary, featuring four GOP candidates vying to fill the open seat being vacated by Bob Cole, who chose not to run again.

In the primary, Smith scored a narrow victory over Jeff Ates IV. Both candidates received about 29% of the vote, a difference of less than one-half percent, which triggered an automatic recount.

There’s no other party-affiliated opponent, but the race was pushed to the General Election Ballot due to the qualification of Write-In candidate Clifton Wheeler, who has no website and with only a $60 in-kind contribution reported.


Santa Rosa County Commissioner District 4

In an unusual turn, this General Election race features two Republican candidates, Ray Eddington and first-term incumbent Dave Piech.

Write-In candidate Harlan Hall also threw his hat in the ring, closing the primary to Republican voters only. But, his withdrawal from the race in mid-July, due to health concerns, resulted in the race being pushed to the November ballot and opened up to all voters regardless of party affiliation. Read the story here.

Santa Rosa County School Board District 5

This race features Scott Peden and Pete Peters, the top two vote-getters in the Aug. Primary.

Peden, retired from the telecommunications industry, is seeking to return to the school board. He was elected in 2010 and served 8 years before losing the seat in 2018 to Wei Ueberschaer, who chose not to run for re-election.

Peters is a former Marine Officer, with 22 years of experience as an NJROTC instructor and coach in Escambia County.

Holley Navarre Fire District

Only voters in the Holley Navarre Fire District will be eligible to vote. The referendum asks voters to approve authorization of HNFD to levy ad valorem taxes against taxable real estate within the district with a millage cap of 3.75 mills. This does mean the district will immediately set the rate to the maximum amount.

Creation of special fire district for Navarre Beach

Voters in Navarre Beach Precinct 38 will decide whether to create an independent special district to provide fire, rescue and emergency services to the Navarre Beach community. This would include an initial non-ad Valorem assessment not to exceed $500 for residential properties, $63 for vacant land, and $0.41 per square foot for commercial properties.

City of Gulf Breeze Mayor

This race features incumbent Cherry Fitch against Jim Doyle.

Fitch, a realtor by trade, was appointed Mayor in February 2019, after serving on Gulf Breeze City Council since 2012.

Doyle is a machinist who is seeking his first political office.

City of Gulf Breeze Charter Revision Question:

Shall the current City Charter be repealed and replaced with a comprehensively restated Charter that conforms to municipal home rule powers granted by Florida law; maintains the City’s Council-Manager form of government; changes the term of the Mayor to four years; describes and clarifies the duties, responsibilities, and authority of City officials; and updates other provisions and language?

Options are:

Yes – For adopting the restated City Charter / No – Against adopting the restated City Charter

City of Milton Mayor

This race is between longtime councilwoman Mary Johnson, "Fireman" Dan Stillings and current Mayor Heather Lindsay, who is seeking a second term.

Milton City Council

There are three seats up for election on Milton City Council: Ward 1 between Vernon Compton and Mike Cusack; Ward 2 between Marilynn Farrow and Wesley Meiss; and Ward 3 between Gavin Hawthorne and Robert Leek.

Okaloosa County

Special Deannexation Referendum for Laurel Hill

Shall the City adopt an ordinance providing that your property together with 28 other parcels of land constituting a total of approximately 176.68 acres of land be removed and de-annexed from the City of Laurel Hill, Florida city limits and instead become part of unincorporated Okaloosa, County, Florida?

Voters can chose “For Deannexation” or “Against Deannexation.”

The Special Referendum for North Okaloosa Fire District

Shall the North Okaloosa Fire District collect impact fees for new residential construction at $0.30 per square foot and new commercial construction at $0.40 per square foot? Impact fees are for new construction only, not currently developed properties. Per Florida Statute, revenue collected from impact fees can only be used for capital goods such as firefighting equipment and trucks. Would you like to support NOFD collecting these fees?

This referendum is for residents of the North Okaloosa Fire District who reside in the following precincts: 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 45, 51, and 52.

City of Destin Mayor:

With incumbent Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis choosing not to seek reelection, two current members of the Destin City Council are in the running for this open seat.

This race features Rodney Braden, who terms out this year after 8 years on the council. His opponent is fellow council member Bobby Wagner, who was appointed in Nov. 2021 to fill the vacancy left by the suspension of Prebble Ramswell.

Find sample ballots, polling places and more at your county supervisor of elections website: