MAYO, Fla. — Lafayette County has its new state representative.
In a special election Tuesday, Port St. Joe businessman Jason Shoaf was elected to the Florida House of Representatives for District 7, outdistancing Ryan Terrell, a former Legislative aide who lives in Tallahassee. Shoaf, a Republican, garnered 71.3 percent of the vote (11,604 votes) across the 10-county district to Terrell’s 28.7 percent (4,670 votes).
"None of this would have been possible on my own,” Shoaf said in a release. “The credit goes to the many supporters — both old friends and new friends — who spent their time, their money and their shoe rubber getting out the vote for this election.
“I’m so fortunate to have all of your support. Humbling isn’t the word, it’s unbelievable. Thank you.”
Locally, Shoaf was the overwhelming choice as well. Lafayette County voters supported Shoaf with 677 votes (87.9 percent) to 93 votes (12.1 percent) for Terrell. Shoaf won each county in the district.
Those 770 votes in Lafayette County meant a 17.49 percent voter turnout for the special election, which came after the seat was vacated by Halsey Beshears following his appointment earlier this year by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as the head of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
In the special primary, Shoaf beat out Mike Watkins, Lynda Bell and Virginia Fuller to advance to the special general election.
Shoaf’s focus during his campaign were on increasing vocational training and economic development across the North Florida district, as well as trying to bring aid to the Gulf counties devastated by Hurricane Michael a year ago.
"Our communities deserve a voice in Tallahassee, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael,” Shoaf added in the release. “I am incredibly proud to take on this role, and I guarantee our voice will be heard.
"I'll make sure they know the devastation and destruction that Hurricane Michael brought on our region, and the families and businesses that are still struggling nearly one year later. I'll make sure they know that we're not willing to compromise our values. The right to life, the right to bear arms and the right to pursue the American Dream — these values are not for sale. And I'll make sure they know we care about our kids. The best and most important investment we can make is in their future. I want to bring more skills and training programs to our high schools so that students can learn the skills they need to find good-paying jobs."