Last Updated: 8:03 p.m.
For Flagler County and Palm Coast, it is an election of new faces: four races, four newcomers to elected office: Leann Pennington won a seat on the County Commission, Theresa Pontieri and Cathy Heighter won seats to the Palm Coast City Council, and Will Furry won a Flagler County School Board seat.
For Flagler County schools, the critical referendum to renew the half-cent sales tax for the third time easily won approval with 69 percent of the vote.
Pennington, the unknown Republican maverick who defeated Joe Mullins with a crushing margin in the Republican primary for the Flagler County Commission seat he held just one term, defeated independent Jane Gentile-Youd with 74 percent of the vote, a margin even larger than that of her win over Mullins, and brought a woman’s voice to what had been an all-male club for the past six years. At 45, Pennington will also be the youngest member of the commission by 14 years.
Pontieri, who’d briefly served as Sheriff Rick Staly’s in-house attorney last year, convincingly won her election against Alan Lowe for a four-year term on the Palm Coast City Council, taking 67 percent of the vote. It is Lowe’s third defeat in less than three years for a council seat. He twice ran for mayor previously.
Furry defeated Courtney VandeBunte with 59 percent of the vote, and Heighter beat Fernando Melendez with around 55 percent, the closest of the local races, for her seat on the council. She will take the place of Eddie Branquinho, who chose not to run for a second term.
Republican Rep. Paul Renner defeated Democrat Adam Morley to retain his seat in the Florida House, assuring him of the speakership in the session opening next year. He took 64 percent of the vote districtwide. U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a Republican, won his second term in Congress, defeating Joseph Hannousch of the Libertarian Party of Florida with 74 percent of the vote district-wide.
Polls in the Panhandle closed at 8 p.m. eastern time. In the governor’s race, Ron DeSantis was assured a comfortable win over Charlie Crist, as was Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, over Orlando Democrat Val Demings. DeSantis’s margin of victory was nearing 20 points, that of Rubio 15.
If there are to be any surprises, it will be in the three constitutional amendments on the ballot. All three were squeaking by in Flagler, but by barely crossing the needed 60-percent threshold: if they had such a hard time in Flagler, a decidedly conservative county passing judgment on mostly right-wing proposals, they could not succeed statewide. And in fact as statewide numbers were tallied, all three were struggling, their approval in the 53 to 57 percent range, with the proposal to abolish the Constitutional Revision Commission certain to fail: it was polling only at 52 percent. That commission meets every 20 years.
The proposal to allow lawmakers to change property tax rules regarding improvements against flooding and a proposal to expand homestead exemptions for some public employees–the more moderate of the three proposals with its inclusion of teachers on the list of those eligible for exemptions–still had a chance, with just over half of all votes counted. But those chances were dimming as the evening progressed.
There were 11 appellate judges on the Flagler ballot–five for the Florida Supreme Court, six for the Fifth District Court of Appeal. They were up for retention. All 11 were retained by wide margins in Flagler, and statewide (for Supreme Court justices, each of whom garnered about 63 percent approval for retention) and in the district (for the Fifth, where the judges won 65 to 69 percent approval for retention districtwide).
Democrats held one statewide office: the Commissioner of Agriculture. Nikki Fried had to resign in her run for governor, which she lost in the primary to Crist. The office is reverting to a Republican, Wilton Simpson, who defeated Naomi Esther Blemur. Attorney general Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis were winning their reelection races easily.
Voter turnout in Flagler was strong for an off-year election, at 62 percent, but it fell short of the 2018 mark of 65 percent. It also means that 36,000 eligible voters in Flagler County did not cast a ballot.
It was another dismal night in a long line of dismal election nights for Flagler and Florida Democrats. But at least they had Tropical Storm Nicole to look forward to.
General Election 2022 Results: Flagler County's Local and State Races
|Flagler School Board, District 2|
|Palm Coast City Council, District 2|
|Theresa Carli Pontieri||24529||67.49|
|Palm Coast City Council, District 4|
|Cathy D. Heighter||19041||54.55|
|Flagler County Commission, District 4|
|Commissioner of Agriculture|
|Naomi Esther Blemur||17948||32.65|
|Representative in Congress, District 6|
|United State Senator|
|Steven B. Grant||179||.32|
|Tuan TQ Nguyen||80||.14|
|Governor and Lieutenant Governor|
|Limitation on the Assessment of Real Property|
|Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission|
|Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemption|
|School Board Half Cent Sales Surtax|
|State Representative, District 19|