Local candidates seek elected office

OKEECHOBEE — As the election season heats up, candidates for Okeechobee County offices have started their own campaigns.

There’s still plenty of time for more candidates to enter the local races.

Qualification for county office closes on Friday, June 24, at noon.

Candidates must be registered voters and live within the county or district designated. Those seeking school board office must live within the designated district at the time of qualifying to run for office. Those seeking a seat on the county commission must live within the designated district at the time of election. In the other county races, candidates must live within the county or district designated at the time of assuming office.

County candidates can qualify by paying a qualifying fee that is a percentage of the annual salary of the office they seek, or by obtaining the signatures of 195 registered voters on a petition. In partisan races, the qualifying fee for a major party candidate is 6 percent of the annual salary for the position sought, and the qualifying fee for a minor party candidate is 4 percent of the annual salary. Candidates who register as Republican (REP) and Democrat (DEM) are considered major party candidates. Those registered in other political parties or as No Party Affiliation (NPA) are considered minor party candidates.

Salaries for county office are set by Florida Statute, based on county population.

School board

The qualifying fee for the non-partisan Okeechobee County School Board race is $1,100.24. School board terms are four years. Salary is $27,506 per year.

Malissa Morgan is seeking re-election to school board district 2 seat. She is currently unopposed.

Levi Johnson is seeking the school board district 4 seat. He is currently the only candidate in that race. The seat is currently held by India Riedel.

County commission

County commission terms are four years. Annual salary is $35,104. In the county commission district 1 race, candidates filed to date are Phil Baughman (REP), Mark Brandel (REP), David Hazellief (REP) and Keith White (REP). This seat has been vacant since the Aug. 17, 2014 death of Commissioner Ray Domer.

In the county commission district 3 race, candidates are Bradley G. Goodbread (REP), Bobby (Robert) Keefe Jr. (NPA) and Debra Sales (REP).

This seat is currently held by Frank Irby. Mr. Irby stated he does not intended to seek re-election.

Candidates seeking the county commission district 5 seat are Frank Cunningham (REP), Weston Harvey (DEM) and Kelly Owens (REP). This seat is currently held by Margaret Helton. Mrs. Helton stated she does not plan to see re-election.

Constitutional officers

The Tax Collector also serves a four-year term. Annual salary is $103,928. Celeste Watford (DEM) is currently unopposed in her re-election bid.

The Property Appraiser also serves a four-year term. Annual salary is $103,928. Five candidates have filed for this position: Mickey (Michael) Bandi Jr. (NPA), Steve Cates (DEM), Russ (William) Duncan (REP), Sharon Wallace (NPA) and D. Robert Wilson (REP).

The County Sheriff serves a four-year term, with salary set at $112,877 per year. Four candidates have filed for sheriff: Michael Hazellief (NPA), William “Bill” Markham (DEM), Noel E. Stephen (REP), and Darryl Stokes (REP).

Sheriff Paul May announced last year that he does not plan to seek another term in office.

Clerk of the Court is a four-year term, with a salary of $103,928. Sharon Robertson (DEM) is seeking re-election and is currently unopposed.

Supervisor of Elections is a four-year term, with an annual salary of $86,151.

Diane Hagan (NPA) is seeking re-election and is currently unopposed.

The primary election will be Aug. 30. The deadline to register for vote in that election is Aug. 1.

The general election will be Nov. 8. The deadline to register to vote in that election is Oct. 11.

Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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