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Leon County Candidates Make Their Final Pitch To Voters

Florida's primary is August 26th.
Nick Evans

Tuesday is Florida’s primary election and as citizens head to the polls, candidates are making their last push to convince voters they’re the one for the job.  Here, candidates on the Leon County ballot make their final pitch to voters.

Two seats in the Florida House of Representatives are up for grabs.  On the Democratic ballot is a race for the 8th House district representing parts of Leon and Gadsden counties.  Incumbent Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) is defending his seat against challenger Diane Williams-Cox.  Whoever wins this election will face write-in candidate James Sinclair in the general election.  Here’s Williams-Cox.

“I want everyone to exercise their right to vote,” Williams-Cox says, “and vote your conscience, I’ve done everything I could to convince you that I am the right choice but the choice is now yours”

Williams says, “Six years I asked for your vote and you delivered.  Tomorrow I need you again.  I humbly ask for your vote, and I make you the same promise that I made you then:  I will deliver and I will not let you down.”

The race for the 9th House district, though, is universal.  Without any other challengers, the primary between incumbent Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) and Arnitta Grice-Walker will determine who fills the statehouse seat.  Grice-Walker was unavailable, but Rehwinkel-Vasilinda says:

“I have one more term to go, and I want to use the knowledge and the experience that I have gained to continue to work hard and smart for the people of district nine and the people of the state of Florida,” Rehwinkel-Vasilinda says.

At the local level, Tallahassee voters will decide a three-way mayoral race between current City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, Larry Hendricks, and Zack Richardson. 

“As Mayor,” Hendricks says, “I’ll encourage a healthy process and safe environment for all citizens of Tallahassee.  I want to represent and address the issues of working people, support locals businesses, and create real jobs, in a community where all people feel safe from violence and intimidation.

Andrew Gillum says, “I’m running for mayor because I believe in the promise of our city, and I believe that our city is defined by its amazing citizens, the hard work that we demonstrate, and the ingenuity that we bring to making Tallahassee the kind of place that we all want to live.”

Zack Richardson unfortunately could not be reached. 

With Gillum running for mayor, a seat on the City Commission will be vacant, and three candidates are running for the opening.  Curtis Richardson and David “Bubba” Riddle returned our calls but too late to be included in this story.  Oropallo says, if elected, she’ll be a welcome change in the commission.

“Clearly, our message of bringing a fresh perspective and a new pair of eyes to the Tallahassee City Commission resonates with the voters, and if I’m so fortunate enough to be elected to the City Commission, I look forward to serving our community and helping continue to move it forward for all of our citizens,” Oropallo says.

The other commission seat on the ballot is held by Nancy Miller.  She’s facing off against Steve Stewart.

“I think it’s probably important for people to understand that this particular race will be decided tomorrow,” Miller says. “There are only two of us in the race, and so one of us will be finished and be the next commissioner.”

Stewart couldn’t be reached in time for this story.

Rounding out the ballot is a race for Leon County School board.  Incumbent Forrest Van Camp is defending his seat from Alva Swafford Striplin.  Van Camp touts his experience in administration.

“So I think this race is going to come down to what the voters want. Do they want someone that’s well qualified with previous experience? Or they want someone that’s going to have to be on the job and learn the – to be trained and take a few years before they really know what’s going on with the school board?” Van Camp asks.

Striplin, a classroom teacher, says she’ll focus on students.

“I promise to ask with every decision is this in the best interest of every Leon County schools student and is this the best use of tax payer dollars,” Striplin says.

WFSU made an effort to reach as many candidates as possible, but with the final push to get out the vote not all of them were able to return our calls in time.  Finally, it should be noted that every candidate made one point very clear – everyone who can should get out and vote.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.