The countdown starts Monday

Next week, St Johns County Supervisor of Elections, Vicky Oakes, will be begin processing candidate qualifying papers for county, municipal and local district candidates seeking election, or re-election, this year; beginning at 12:00 noon on Monday.

Candidates began dropping off qualifying documents with the Supervisor’s office on May 21. “A number of candidates have already filed papers, within the last 2 weeks, which will be officially filed after noon on Monday,” Oaks reported to Historic City News today. “Our website will be updated as candidates qualify, so keep an eye on www.votesjc.com. State races are also being updated as candidates file, so watch their website as well.”

Qualifying week for federal, statewide, multi-county, county, district and political party executive committees is the five business-day period beginning noon June 4, 2012 until noon June 8. Write-in candidates for President and Vice President may qualify beginning at 8:00 a.m., June 18, 2012 through noon, June 26. Qualifying for Judicial, State Attorney and Public Defender seats ended at noon, April 20.

Not everyone who has previously announced a run for office will “qualify”, Oakes explained. “Some of the previously announced candidates have withdrawn from the election; others have changed the office for which they intend to run.”

If the candidate did not submit the minimum number of voter petitions for verification by Monday, May 7, they will be required to pay a “qualifying fee” when they turn in their other paperwork if they want to stay in the race.

In county commission races, for example, you needed 1,398 certified petitions to avoid paying $3,870.72 in partisan qualifying fees; $2,580.48 if running non-partisan.

At the close of the qualifying period on Friday, voters will finally know who is running for what.

If multiple candidates qualify for the same seat, from the same political party, their race may be decided in the Primary Election held August 14, 2012. High vote-getters in each partisan Primary Election face their opponents from other political parties, during the General Election November 6, 2012.

Historic City News spoke with candidates eager to compete for the County Commission District 5 where three others will qualify to unseat Joseph “Ken” Bryan. According to records filed with the Supervisor of Elections, Bryan will attempt re-election; representing himself as a Republican candidate.

Bryan ran as a Democrat and was defeated in 2006. Less than 30 days after his defeat, Ken Bryan became a RINO; he changed his party affiliation to Republican on December 5, 2006, and then ran in a different district only two years later. He has been in front of the camera several times in support of other Democrats; including the Democrat running for Governor and the Democrat in the last Presidential election.

The first Republican opponent, Alan Kelso, told Historic City News this evening, the he has enjoyed meeting thousands of voters and obtaining their petitions so that he can qualify Monday without paying the qualifying fee. “It has been a great experience, we turned in the necessary petitions to get what we needed and that’s what we’ll be doing on Monday,” Kelso said. “I’m looking forward to the campaign and look forward to the August election.”

The other Republican candidate, Rachael Bennett, says she’ll be at the Supervisor’s Office right at 12:00. Bennett, who started a new consulting firm at St Augustine Beach in January, chose to pay the $3,870.72 qualifying fee to appear on the ballot. “I have been active in a number of community events and talked to hundreds of local voters,” Bennett said. “I will continue to do so as my campaign moves forward.”

Bryan’s third opponent is St Augustine businessperson Randy Brunson; although Brunson has been one of the Republican Party’s strongest supporters through the years, he is running for this seat — without party affiliation; and, therefore, will not appear on the ballot until November when all registered voters can vote. “Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Party, makes no difference in the General Election — you can vote for me,” Brunson said with a smile.

“I am excited to be qualifying next week,” Brunson told Historic City News today. “I am fortunate that so many friends and supporters have come forward to donate to my campaign so that I could pay the qualifying fee next week.”

Brunson’s non-partisan candidacy has closed the Primary Election — meaning that only Republicans will be allowed to vote between Kelso, Bennett, or Bryan, in August. Whoever gets the most Republican votes in that Primary Election will face Brunson, head-to-head, before all eligible voters in November.

So much for the candidates, what about the voters? Two important dates to remember — if you want to vote in the August Primary Election, the last day to register is July 16. If you have not already done so, the last day to register to vote in the November General Election is October 9, 2012.

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