The two Fernandina Beach City Commission candidates who won their seats in Tuesday’s election are looking forward to serving while two other candidates for the Group 2 seat are looking forward to more campaigning in advance of a Dec. 8 runoff election.
Bradley Bean won the Group 1 seat with 55.74% of the vote over Marian Phillips to replace Johnny Miller, who also was serving as mayor. Bean’s father, Sen. Aaron Bean, and his grandfather, Lewis “Red” Bean, also both served on the City Commission.
“From the day we announced, the entire ‘Bean Team’ worked tirelessly to get my message out,” he said. “We were confident that our Fernandina First message would prevail.
Bean said his first priority would be to streamline the city’s budget. “There’s a lot of opportunity for savings and to give that savings back to our citizens through tax cuts,” he said and added he is “humbled and grateful” for the support he received from his hometown. “As your next commissioner, I promise to always do what’s right for the hard working families of Fernandina Beach and to live up to the legacy that my dad and grandfather set on our City Commission.”
Incumbent Chip Ross defeated challenger Wendall McGahee (54.03%-45.97%) to win the Group 3 seat.
Thanking residents who “believe in our shared community values,” Ross said the perspective he gained from his opponent would inform him during his second term.
“I wish to thank my opponent for addressing issues that might otherwise have been ignored,” Ross said. “In light of that, I have offered to meet with Mr. McGahee monthly to improve communications in our community.”
In Group 2, David Sturges (43.42%) and Genece Minshew (29.80%) will face one another in a Dec. 8 runoff election since neither won 50% plus one vote. Sturges took 3,734 votes, while Minshew came away with 2,563.
The winner will replace Commissioner Phil Chapman, who chose not to run for re-election after serving one term. Neither candidate is surprised to be in a runoff, but they don’t agree about the election process and runoff election.
Sturges said he believes any City Commission race with more than two candidates should be on the August primary ballot so the contest would already be narrowed to two candidates for the general election, saving the city the cost of a runoff election.
In a letter to the City Commission last week, Minshew said she believes having commission candidates on the August primary ballot would require two campaigns and discourage people to run. She also said primary races are partisan so putting a nonpartisan election on that ballot would be confusing. Minshew said runoff elections could be done in a less expensive manner – such as a mail-in ballot – but are “the price of our democratic process.”
Both Minshew and Sturges said they will continue to court voters for the runoff.
“I am elated and humbled that people voted for me,” Sturges said. “The people have spoken. I want to push for a higher turnout than is usual for a runoff. I planned on this, so I am ready for that last little push. It’s not over yet.”
Minshew said knowing who her opponent is will help her shape her runoff campaign. “The differences in my opponent and I are clearer now, and people have a clear choice to make,” she said. “This is exactly where I expected to be. I am going to campaign even harder. I am excited and ready to go.”