Last Updated: 9:05 p.m.
With 90 percent of votes counted, incumbent Flagler County Commissioner Greg Hanson retained his seat and Joe Mullins was elected to the commission.
In Palm Coast City Council races, voters turned down former Mayor Jon Netts’s bid for a re-run and elected Jack Howell. And Eddie Branquinho defeated John Tipton in a run-off.
The races for county commission and Palm Coast council were not close: Hansen was defeating Dennis McDonald with close to a 2-to-1 margin, and Mullins wasn’t far behind, beating Jane Gentile-Youd.
The sole remaining race for the Flagler County School Board was quite close: incumbent Janet McDonald held off John Fisher, who was also attempting a come-back, but by less than a point: the difference was 316 votes. Two other seats were up this year on the school board. Andy Dance won reelection without opposition. Trevor Tucker won in the primary.
Both contests for the Palm Coast City Council had been for open seats, after the resignation of council members Steven Nobile and the decision by Heidi Shipley not to run for re-election. Howell’s election means that an insurgent voice remains on the council.
“Can you believe this? I was totally stunned, to be honest with you, because Jon is a formidable opponent, and he’ a very good guy,” Howell said by phone from the African American Cultural Society, where Democrats had gathered to celebrate. “I’m glad I won because the people wanted change and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to implement the things I discussed when I was out doing the spiels.” Howell, who retired from the Marines and has been running teens in Flight, the organization he founded in Flagler, is aware that he’ll be the odd man out on the council. “I’m optimistic that I can work with the other people,” he said, “you don’t survive two Washington D.C. tours without knowing how to work with the professional politicians.”
Branquinho, who was celebrating at home with family and friends, was also jubilant. “I’m extremely happy, always happy when you win something,” he said. “It feels even better, this victory, if I may call it, due to the formidable opponent that I had who was a gentleman, and who was also a fighter.” Branquinho, a retired cop from Newark, N.J., who until now had made his name in town through the Portuguese-American Club, added: “The fun part is over, now it’s the part that starts the work. I don’t fear it.” He said he wants to “make sure that Palm Coast is proud of me.”
In the race for the 6th Congressional District–the seat Ron DeSantis resigned to run for governor–Republican Michael Waltz was easily beating Democrat Nancy Soderberg in Flagler, Volusia and St. Johns counties, all but putting the seat out of reach for Soderberg.
Every proposed amendment on the ballot, whether constitutional or Palm Coast charter, was winning a majority of 60 percent or better, meaning that the amendments were all garnering the necessary 60 percent majority to pass, at least as far as Flagler County voters are concerned. (Only a 50 percent majority is necessary for the Palm Coast charter amendments.) Most of the amendments, especially the tax amendments such as a proposed increase in the homestead exemption for wealthier homes, were expected to clear that hurdle.
The big surprise, at least in Flagler, is that even Amendment 4, which would restore voting rights to most felons who have served their time, was also clearing the 60-percent hurdle–if barely: it got 60.6 percent.
“I’m glad Flagler did the right thing with that,” Linda Sharpe-Matthews, who heads the Flagler Branch of the NAACP, said. “People who have paid their debt to society, the slate needs to be wiped clean for them so they could be productive, and if you want to talk about civic responsibility, that doesn’t mean just avoiding a life of crime, but it also means being able to participate.”
Election turnout in Flagler was a shade under 65 percent, shattering the 2014 mark of 51 percent, with 70 percent of ballots cast before Election Day: early voting accounted for 43 percent of the total, mailed-in ballots for 28 percent. More than 53,000 registered voters in Flagler cast ballots, out of 82,600 registered.
State House Rep. Paul Renner, the Republican incumbent, was coasting to victory over Adam Morley.
In statewide races, all Republican candidates were running strongly ahead of their opponents in Flagler, where Republicans have an overwhelming advantage in registrations. Early in the evening Andrew Gillum briefly polled ahead of Ron DeSantis and Bill Nelson was beating Rick Scott, but numbers then reversed, giving Scott and DeSantis the advantage.
Flagler’s local elections contrasted with the state and national contests, with Flagler’s most bitter races decided in the primary. With the exception of the county commission, general election contests were comparatively more muted, with voters’ energies focused on races for governor, senate and congressional seats.
While Republicans continued to dominate the scene locally–not a single Democrat contested the two county commission seats, ensuring that the commission would remain an all-Republican panel–Democrats for the first time in two decades could pin hopes on a gubernatorial candidate with a solid chance to win, and could take additional solace from seeing septuagenarian Sen. Bill Nelson, the only statewide Democrat still in office the last four years, retain his seat for a fourth term. (Despite his age, he’s only the 15th-oldest senator in the chamber. California’s Diane Feinstein, at 85, is the oldest. She is in a reelection battle this year too.)
“We got a bottle of champagne and a bottle of alcohol we’re going to put a fake cyanide label on,” Peter Wentworth said as he held up campaign Gillum signs with Shirley Nestor outside the Palm Coast Community Center this afternoon. “We’re going to drink one of them.”
They were having a more civil time with drive-bys. Patsi Colosimo, a volunteer for the Democrats wearing a Gillum shirt, was on her way to Starbucks today when a man in a pick-up driving by yelled obscenities, referred to Gillum by the n-word, and spat at her, she said.
The Democrats who did run for office, albeit in non-partisan races–Carl Jones for school board, John Tipton for Palm Coast City Council–both lost.
“But we’ve come a long way,” Stephanie Capehart, who heads the Flagler Democratic Party, said this evening, referring to Tipton. “He went from zero name recognition to 13,000 votes, he’s already committed to work with us so we can grow his name recognition and his stature in the community and help us work with some new candidates as well. You lose one, you didn’t lose everything.”
General Election 2018 Results: Flagler County's Local Races and State Races
|Flagler School Board, District 2|
|Palm Coast City Council, District 2|
|Jack D. Howell||55.89||19143|
|Palm Coast City Council, District 4|
|John E. Tipton IV||43.12||14827|
|Flagler County Commission, District 2|
|Greg Hansen (Rep)||64.05||31954|
|Dennis McDonald (NPA)||35.95||17936|
|Flagler County Commission, District 4|
|Joe Mullins (Rep)||61.63||30934|
|Jane Gentile-Youd (NPA)||38.37||19257|
|Circuit Judge, Group 15|
|Linda L. Gaustad||63.12||27686|
|Rick Scott (Rep)||59.36||31417|
|Bill Nelson (Dem)||40.37||21366|
|Congressional Representative, District 6|
|Michael Waltz (Rep)||58.58||30547|
|Nancy Soderberg (Dem)||41.42||21595|
|Ashley Moody (Rep)||61.08||32018|
|Sean Shaw (Dem)||37.09||19443|
|Jeffrey Marc Siskind (NPA)||1.83||957|
|Commissioner of Agriculture|
|Matt Caldwell (Rep)||58.95||30590|
|Nicole "Nikki" Fried (Dem)||41.02||21276|
|Ron DeSantis (Rep)||58.57||30916|
|Andrew Gillum (Dem)||40.06||21145|
|Darcy Richardson (Ref)||0.60||317|
|Kyle Gibson (NPA)||0.33||172|
|Ryan Christopher Foley (NPA)||0.19||100|
|Bruce Stanley (NPA)||0.17||90|
|Chief Financial Officer|
|Jimmy Patronis (Rep)||60.28||31112|
|Jeremy Ring (Dem)||39.65||20464|
|State Representative, District 24|
|Paul Renner (Rep)||59.49||30711|
|Adam Morley (Dem)||4.51||20914|
|Justice Alan Lawson|
|Justice Eric Eisnaugle|
|Dunes Community Development District, Seat 5|
|Amendment No. 1|
|Amendment No. 2|
|Amendment No. 3|
|Amendment No. 4|
|Amendment No. 5|
|Amendment No. 6|
|Amendment No. 7|
|Amendment No. 8|
|Amendment No. 9|
|Amendment No. 10|
|Amendment No. 11|
|Amendment No. 12|
|Amendment No. 13|
|Palm Coast Charter Amendment 1|
|Palm Coast Charter Amendment 2|
|Palm Coast Charter Amendment 3|