For an off-year, 2022 will not be short of elections in Flagler County, starting with elections in Flagler Beach, Bunnell and Beverly Beach on March 8. A combined seven incumbents in the three municipalities are making a play to keep their seats, and absent additional candidates filing to run, Bunnell and Beverly Beach could end up with uncontested elections.
The window to qualify by petition has closed in all three municipalities. The one-week period to qualify by fee closes Friday in Beverly Beach. It runs from Jan. 10 to Jan. 14 in Bunnell, and from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21 in Flagler Beach.
Beverly Beach has a five-member elected commission and an elected mayor. Two seats are up. Both incumbents, Jim Howard and Donna Procida, have qualified to run by petition. Since they had to get signed petitions from 1 percent of registered voters in a town of 476 people, the candidates needed only five or six petitions to qualify. For those, if any, who are seeking to qualify by paying a fee, they’ll have to pay $90 in addition to the state election fee, or 3 percent of commissioners’ salary, which is $3,000. (The mayor gets $6,000.) The $89 state election fee may be waived if the candidate shows hardship.
Qualification also requires the candidate to open a bank account, sign a loyalty oath and acknowledgement forms, and comply with campaign finance documentation. If no one else files to run against the incumbents, they will be automatically re-elected. They serve two-year terms.
Three seats on the five-member commission are up in Bunnell: the mayor’s and two commission seats. All three incumbents–Mayor Catherine Robinson and Commissioners Robert Barnes and
Tina-Marie Shultz — have qualified by filing the required 22 petitions. No additional candidates have qualified by petition, so any candidate who wishes to run, once the qualifying window opens net week, will have to do so by paying $324 to run for mayor and $259 to run for a commission seat, in addition to the state election fee. As in Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach, Bunnell’s elections are all at large. Assuming one other candidate runs for commission, the top two vote-getters will be seated.
Barnes and Schultz were appointed to the commission last year by the three other members of the commission after the resignation of two commissioners: Bill Baxley, who moved to New Hampshire, and Donnie Nobles, who resigned for health reasons. So this could be the two appointees’ first contested election–assuming anyone chooses to join the race (it takes only one additional candidate to make it a competitive race). Robinson is the dean of elected officials in Flagler. She was first appointed to the commission in 1994, and but for a brief hiatus after 2001, has won every election since. She’s faced opposition in only one race since 1994. The mayor and commissioners serve three-year terms.
So far, only Flagler Beach is assured of having a contested election. Commissioners Jane Mealy and Rick Belhumeur have qualified by petition, as has a newcomer to Flagler Beach elections, James Sherman. The candidates filed 48 petitions each to qualify (there were 4,772 registered voters in the city at the time of the last election.) When the qualifying window opens later this month, additional candidates will have to pay a $534.84 qualifying fee plus the $89.14 state election assessment fee.
Only residents 18 and older of each municipality, who are American citizens, may vote in their municipality’s election, including felons who have completed their obligations, such as probation and financial restitution. The registration deadline for those not yet registered is Feb. 7. You may register online here.
There will be no early voting in any of the three municipalities’ elections. But any registered voter may choose to vote by mail. The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot is February 26, 2022, at 5 p.m. Vote-by-Mail ballots must be received in the Elections Office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. Voters may place a request for a mail ballot by phone, (386) 313-4170 or online here.
Voting on Election Day, March 8, for both Beverly Beach and Flagler Beach elections will take place at Flagler Beach City Hall, 105 South 2nd Street. Voting for the Bunnell election usually takes place at the old Coquina City Hall. But the hall won’t be available this year. Voting will take place at Carver Gym, also known as the George Washington Carver Center, 206 E. Drain Street.
The three municipalities’ canvassing boards will also be holding five meetings between Feb. 22 and March 16, all of them held at the Flagler County Supervisors of Elections office at the Government Services Building, 1769 East Moody Boulevard, Bunnell. Canvassing board meetings have generally been routine and uncontroversial, but the recent emergence of extreme-right cynics and detractors on the hunt for non-existent perfidy have made a little theater a some of those meetings, as in last summer’s special mayoral election in Palm Coast. The municipalities’ canvassing board meetings are unlikely to attract as much obtuseness.
No sooner will those elections be over than the Aug. 23 primary’s campaigns will create their own empire for the senses.