Election Supervisor Candidates Trade Barbs About Endorsements

Jul 11, 2016

L-R: Mark Earley, Tena Pate, Rep. Alan Williams.
Credit Downtown Tallahassee Business Assocation/ facebook

Three candidates are vying to replace outgoing Leon County election supervisor Ion Sancho. 

The race to be Leon County’s next election supervisor brings together a state representative, the former head of the parole board and the current election supervisor’s deputy. 

Mark Earley, currently serving as the voting systems manager, says his depth of experience in the office makes him the best candidate to succeed Ion Sancho.  He’s gotten the endorsement of his boss as well as a number of other supervisors.

“So I’m really proud to have Ion’s endorsement,” Earley says.  “Like I say, other supervisors have endorsed me also, so if this was some kind of problem that wouldn’t be the case.”

“I’ve got sixteen other either former or current supervisors endorsing me,” he goes on, “so as far as Ion’s endorsement, I think it’s a great thing.  I really appreciate it and I like talking about it.  It’s a great thing.”

But that endorsement raises concerns among the other candidates in the race.  Here’s former parole board chair Tena Pate. 

“Yesterday I was at someone’s door and they wanted to know one thing, are you part of the current administration?  Have you been working with him?  Is he endorsing you?” Pate says the person asked.

“And of course the conversation came full circle on it, and the response was ok, well that’s good because if that was the case I would not be supporting you because he did do the endorsement,” Pate says, “So I don’t think that everyone in this community feels like Mr. Earley does.”

Term-limited Democratic Representative Alan Williams is running to replace Ion Sancho as well.  If he’s elected, Williams says he’ll work to block supervisors from making any endorsements.

“Supervisor is the referee, alright?” Williams says.  “He or she must be above reproach, and so one of the things that we’re going to focus on is how do we craft that?”

“It’s a lot of different ways, there are a lot of different nuances to that—we don’t want to violate their freedom of speech, but we also want to make sure that the voters have trust in the process.”

The three candidates will be on the August 30 ballot.  If one of the, wins an outright majority they’ll take over the seat.  But if not, the top two finishers will compete in a run off on the general election ballot in November.