LIVE OAK — Expressing a desire to give back and support Suwannee County, Len Stapleton got that wish Tuesday.
Stapleton won the three-man universal primary — in which every voter in the district was able to vote regardless of party affiliation — to capture the District 4 seat on the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners.
“At the end of the day, we just want to do the right thing and make a difference,” Stapleton said. “If every one of us can just work together and make a little difference, it adds up to a big difference.
“It’s just the next step. If the opportunity presents itself and you can go make a difference. I’ve just learned that as you get older, you realize it’s more about everybody around you than it is about you. When we’re young, it’s about us. But as you mature, you start to see things different.”
Stapleton garnered 49.84 percent of the vote to win the commission seat with 782 votes. Harry K. “Kin” Weaver Jr. received 525 votes and Jesse Caruthers received 262 votes.
Stapleton was the top vote getter at each of the three precincts in the district.
“At the end of the day, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Stapleton said, thanking his opponents for the way they ran their campaigns in a positive manner. “You put it all out there and you hope and pray for the best and you give it your all and it still may not work out.
“Politics is a funny thing.”
Both Weaver and Caruthers wished Stapleton the best in his new role.
“Life goes on,” Caruthers said. “Been there, done that. I’ve won some and I’ve lost some.
“I just wish him luck. Congratulations.”
Weaver agreed, adding he just wished there would have been a better voter turnout.
“Len and I had already reached out to each other prior to the election, that whoever won, win lose or draw, we’d get together and talk,” he said. “It was all good.”
Larry Sessions, the current county commissioner in the district, did not seek re-election.
A fourth candidate for the seat, former commissioner Philip Oxendine passed away unexpectedly Aug. 12.
While the county commission seat was the lone local seat up for election, in the Republican primary for the District 10 seat in the Florida House of Representatives, Chuck Brannan won the Suwannee County vote 2,540 to 2,024 for Marc Vann.
Brannan also won the district vote, which includes Hamilton, Baker and Columbia counties as well as part of Alachua County.
Brannan received 9,287 votes to Vann’s 7,449 and will now face Democrat candidate Ronald W. Williams II and non-party candidates Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Fred Martin, of McAlpin, in November’s general election.
“Live to fight another day,” Brannan said. “We won’t slack up. We’ll keep marching on toward November now.
“We do appreciate the support we got. We were pleased. Humbled that people thought that much of us, but pleased that we move on to the next phase.”
In the race for governor, Suwannee County supported Adam Putnam in the Republican primary and Gwen Graham in the Democratic primary. Putnam received 2,311 votes in Suwannee County to 2,173 votes for Ron DeSantis, although DeSantis captured more than 56 percent of the vote statewide. Likewise, Graham received 1,003 votes in Suwannee County to Andrew Gillum’s 650 votes, but Gillum edged Graham in the statewide race with 34.36 percent of the vote.
Nicole “Nikki” Fried won the state’s Democratic race for Commissioner of Agriculture and also was the top choice locally with 1,058 votes. In the Republican race, Matt Caldwell — the state winner — also topped Suwannee ballots with 2,025 votes.
Ashley Moody (Republican) and Sean Shaw (Democrat) were the Suwannee County and statewide choices for Attorney General. Moody received 2,884 votes locally with Shaw garnering 1,616.
While incumbent Bill Nelson is unopposed as a Democrat, Florida Gov. Rick Scott easily took the Suwannee County vote in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat receiving 88.63 percent of the votes with 4,117. Scott took 88.61 percent of the vote statewide.
And in the U.S. Representative District 2 race, Neal Dunn, the Republican incumbent, is unopposed and will face either Bob Rackleff in November. Rackleff received 50.8 percent of the district’s votes to win the close race. Brandon Peters, though, received 1,476 votes in Suwannee County to Rackleff’s 827.