McNealy edges out Sharpe
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:25 p.m.
Alachua County Property Appraiser Ed Crapo and Sheriff Sadie Darnell were re-elected to their offices, while former city of Alachua official Clovis Watson Jr. won a chance to represent District 20 in the Florida Legislature.
In Tuesday's general election, voters also chose retired principal Leanetta McNealy to replace incumbent Barbara Sharpe in the District 4 seat on the Alachua County School Board.
Crapo, Darnell and Watson were easy winners. McNealy, formerly the principal of Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy before retiring in 2009, won a relatively close race against Sharpe.
Below is a look at the results of the races for School Board District 4, Florida House District 20, county property appraiser and county sheriff. The results include all 63 voting precincts reporting in Alachua County, absentee ballots and early voting numbers.
McNealy received 50,448 votes, or 52.31 percent, and Sharpe received 45,986 votes, or 47.69 percent, in what was a runoff election between the two. The runoff was held because neither candidate garnered a majority of the vote in the Aug. 14 primary election race, which also included Jodi Wood, a Gainesville truck driver.
McNealy was an educator for 38 years, almost entirely in Alachua County. Her platform included a commitment to empowering all School Board employees, parents and students, as well as improving school safety and supporting and protecting the arts.
McNealy, a Democrat, said she is happy voters are giving her a chance to serve.
"Winning this election means that people have so much confidence in me," said an emotional McNealy at the former 2nd Ave. Oyster House in downtown Gainesville, where she and more than 100 Democrats gathered to watch the election results on a big screen. She said voters know she is going to work hard for education support professionals, students, teachers and schools.
"There is so much work to be done in our school system," she said. "Yes, we have a good school system, but I know I will be one of the ones to help improve what we currently have."
Watson, a Democrat, won in a landslide over write-in candidate Robert Brinkman, a Gainesville carpenter. Watson received 38,408 votes, or 95.27 percent of the votes in Alachua County, and 10,390 votes, or 96.11 percent of the vote, in Marion County.
Watson, who didn't have a Republican challenger, beat fellow Democrat Marihelen Wheeler, a teacher at Westwood Middle School, in the Aug. 14 primary election.
Watson ran on a platform that included improving education, the economy, environment and public safety in the district and in the state. Formerly District 23 before redistricting this year, the district includes eastern Alachua County, parts of west and northwest Alachua County and a part of Marion County.
Watson, the city manager of the city of Alachua from 2002-2009, said he is happy to be going to Tallahassee to represent the district.
Watson said he will carry on the legacy of politicians who have represented the district in the past, including the late Sid Martin, Cynthia Chestnut, Ed Jennings and Charles "Chuck" Chestnut IV, who chose to run for the Alachua County Commission District 5 seat, which he won on Tuesday.
"I am so very honored to serve on behalf of the people of District 20, as well as the state of Florida," said Watson, adding that his top priority will be to help come up with creative ways to bring businesses, jobs and job training programs to District 20.
"I am going to Tallahassee to fight for issues, not to fight people," he said. "I'm not going to fight for or against a group, I'm going to fight for the people to make a difference in District 20 and for the people of the state of Florida, and I am going to work with all people, all parties and all groups to be effective as a state legislator."
Darnell beat challengers John Annarumma, who lives just outside of the city of Alachua, and Gainesville resident Tony Sims, both former employees of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
Darnell received 91,032 votes, or 83.12 percent, of the votes, while Annarumma received 17,858 votes, or 16.31 percent, and Sims received 630 votes, or 0.58 percent.
During the campaign, Darnell said keeping up with the "constant evolution of crime," identity theft and child welfare are some of her top priorities, along with equipping her office with the means to combat the proliferation of those crimes. Also, she wants to put an emphasis on intelligence-led policing and enhanced crime analysis.
Darnell, a Democrat, said being elected as sheriff for the third time in a row means a lot to her. She was first elected in 2006 in a special election after her predecessor, Steve Oelrich, decided to run for the state Senate, and again in 2008.
"I am feeling very validated from the standpoint that my policies and procedures are supported by the people," Darnell said. "I am honored the citizens have re-elected me, and I take this honor very seriously. I will continue to provide equal protection under the law for all citizens."
Crapo, a Democrat, easily beat write-in candidate Syed Mohammed I. Haider of Gainesville to win his ninth term as property appraiser.
He received 97,032 votes, or 97.66 percent, and Haider received 2324 votes, or 2.34 percent. Crapo also easily beat Alonzo Perkins in the primary election.
Crapo ran on a platform that included being enthusiastic about continuing to oversee the ongoing overhauling of the computer system in the office to allow residents to do more business online, especially property owners who apply for the homestead exemption.
"It is very gratifying to know the people of Alachua County voted for me to continue serving them," Crapo said. "I consider it a great honor."
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