12:00 Noon: Final call for 2018 slate of local candidates

“It is 12:00 noon, any others who are not already in progress have missed the deadline to qualify,” St Johns County Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes announced in the lobby of the elections office today.

Historic City News editor Michael Gold was on hand as he has been every two-years on the last day of qualifying for the past eighteen-years since the local free press began publishing in St Augustine.

There was a “last minute” flurry of activity in the elections office this morning. Candidates have been able to drop off their completed qualifying documents since June 4, 2018 pursuant to Section 99.061(8), F.S. even though the “qualifying period” did not officially begin until Monday at noon. Despite that option, some new filers and some old ones showed up at the last minute to avoid missing the important deadline.

St Augustine mayor Nancy Shaver dropped off her documents this morning after a recent campaign event at the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. This is Shaver’s third run for the two-year seat.

Jacqueline Rock, who has resigned two remaining years of her four-year term as commissioner Seat 3, Anastasia Mosquito Control Board, to run against the mayor, also delivered her papers this morning, according to Oakes.

Former St Johns County commissioner and vice-chairman Bill McClure had already submitted his paperwork, but he stopped by to see how many of the four declared mayoral candidates qualified. Duaine “Dewey” King did not qualify, leaving three candidates to vie for Commission Seat 3 in St Augustine.

Had Rock, whose constituency includes, and whose largest contributor is, controversial AME pastor Ronald Rawls, Jr., failed to qualify, as some had speculated, Shaver and McClure could have avoided a Primary Election and gone straight to the General Election in November. As it played out, the two candidates with the most votes in the August 28th Primary will advance to a run off in November. That is, unless one of the three receives more than 50% of the ballots cast. In that case, a winner will be declared and that contest will be decided.

Perennial candidate, 61-year-old Nancy Rhea Sikes-Kline, who has held office since December 1, 2008, declared early and drew an opponent late in her bid for re-election to Seat 5 on the St Augustine City Commission. With only one opponent, political newcomer Chris Ellis, neither will appear on a ballot until the November 6th General Election.

Seat 4 commissioner Todd Neville kept his word not to seek election to a second term. The one-term candidate who defeated John Valdes in 2014 will serve out his days as vice-mayor; an honorary, appointed title. He will leave office in November.

Valdes, a home restoration and building contractor who has served on numerous volunteer boards over the years, returns to qualify again for the open-seat. Valdes latest venture has been the 2016 acquisition of the marina at 509 South Ponce de Leon Boulevard, which is in development.

Wade McGregor Ross, a self-described traveler, artist, and educator, turns 48-years-old in August. He has been teaching art in the St Johns County School District for two-years, since August 3 2016. Although he lives in St Augustine now, Ross states that he is from Cocoa, Florida. His last three jobs listed as a former secondary art teacher at Daegu International school, a former K-12 art teacher at Brevard County public schools, and a former K-12 art teacher at Orange County Public schools. He is known by the alias Wade McGregor on facebook and is one of the founders of the Vagrant Watch facebook group and Night Raiders that have been observing homeless, vagrants and panhandlers, taking photographs and calling police when finding them sleeping in the open, squatting or intoxicated in public spaces, or being aggressive.

Heritage Native Jill Pacetti also qualified for Seat 4 today on St Augustine’s City Commission. She was born and grew up in St Augustine, attended and graduated local schools, and owns a local retail business with her husband Marc. She says that the city has dropped the ball on customer service and she wants to see improvement in the way the city interacts with residents. She is an avid student of local history and can trace her Menorcan ancestors to some of the city’s first families. The name of one of her relatives is engraved on the confederate monument erected by the Ladies Memorial Association of St Augustine in the 1860’s in the Plaza de la Constitución.

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