By DOTTY NIST
According to unofficial results from the Nov. 3 , 2020, General Election, incumbent Walton County District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson has been re-elected for another four-year term—and two South Walton Mosquito Control (SWMCD) board members lost their bids for re-election to challengers in the election.
Originally elected in 2016, Anderson, a Republican, has won re-election with 73.98 percent of the vote ( 31,333 votes). His Democratic challenger Carolynn Zonia received 26.02 percent of the vote (11,023 votes).
Anderson had pledged to continue to work to bring better-paying jobs to Walton County, support customary use of the beaches, keep taxes low, and improve quality of life.
He released the following statement on the results of the election: “Tonight, I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to work on your behalf as your county commissioner over the next four years.”
“I also want to thank my children and grandchildren for their love and support. I have the best family in the world. To the many volunteers who supported our campaign, through the primary to the general election: I am so grateful for you.”
“Finally, political campaigns are stressful and often filled with anxiety for all involved. It takes sacrifice to run for office, and my opponent, Dr. Carolynn Zonia, ran a strong campaign and worked hard. She has my admiration and respect. And now, we move forward together, as one Walton County, to keep improving the county we love.”
Two other seats up for election on the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) had been decided in the 2020 Primary Election, with Republicans Boots McCormick and Mike Barker being elected to the District 1 and District 3 seats, respectively.
The newly-elected county commissioners are set to take office on Nov. 16.
The South Walton Mosquito Control District (SWMCD) is an independent special taxing district established in 1964 through the efforts of resident property owners south of the bay. The SWMCD’s three seats are nonpartisan and are determined by voters within the special district.
John Magee, who had served as a board member for the SWMCD for 16 years, narrowly lost his bid for re-election to SWMCD seat 1 in the Nov. 3 election. Challenger Doug Liles won the seat by 171 votes, getting 50.45 percent of the vote. Magee got 49.55 percent.
Liles’s resume includes establishment and operation of several local businesses/organizations, Southern Hybrid Homes, Point Washington Preserve, and the Good Samaritan Institute charitable organization, along with service as past president of the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa-Walton Counties. He is an advocate for protection of local water bodies, particularly the Choctawhatchee Bay. As a candidate for SWMCD seat 1, Liles had pledged to deal effectively with existing lawsuits facing the SWMCD and to prevent new lawsuits against the organization.
Donna Johns, a candidate for SWMCD seat 2, also won her bid for election, garnering 60.75 percent of the vote. Seat 2 incumbent Tim Norris received 39.25 percent of the vote.
Retired from the U.S. Air Force, Johns has served as chair for the Walton County Design Review Board for several years and is past president for the South Walton Republican Club. As a candidate for SWMCD seat 2 she had pledged to work to improve maintenance of the SWMCD’s mosquito ditches, protection of the local water supply, and management of the SWMCD.
In the ballot referendum to determine whether a two-percent Tourist Development Tax would go into effect for short-term rentals north of the bay, voters approved the tax, with 55.95 percent in favor and 44.05 percent voting against the tax. As of press time, the BCC was set to consider a resolution for the tax to go into effect on March 1, 2021, with funds from the tax to go toward marketing and projects to promote tourism north of the bay.
There was a voter turnout of 75.6 percent in Walton County for the election with 43,893 ballots cast. More information on the election is available on the Walton County Supervisor of Elections website, www.votewalton.com