Local business owner, swim instructor enters race for county commission

Nicole Meade is running for the District 5 seat

Nicole Meade, 42, has entered the race for the District 5 seat for the Marion County Board of County Commissioners [Courtesy of Nicole Meade].

Home » Politics
Posted August 2, 2023 | By Caroline Brauchler

Nicole Meade moved to Marion County 18 years ago on her honeymoon and never looked back. Now, she has filed to run for the District 5 seat on the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.

Meade, a 42-year-old Republican, officially entered the race for the 2024 election on July 12, and serves as her own campaign treasurer. She is running for the seat now held by Michelle Stone, who has served on the county commission since her first election in 2016. Stone has not yet filed for candidacy in the 2024 election.

Meade’s biggest priority? The welfare of first responders, she said. Meade’s husband, Teddy Meade, is a firefighter paramedic with Marion County.

“I hear from people every day. I have clients that are within the fire department and the police department, and they do have concerns and they’re big,” Meade said. “It’s anywhere from the pay to people leaving, to being understaffed, to just being stressed and not feeling like they can voice that.”

Meade’s clients are the patrons of her business, Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), through which she teaches aquatic self-rescue to toddlers. Meade opened up her swim instruction facility 16 years ago for ISR, which is nationwide and trains and contracts instructors like her, who can open up branches to teach techniques to prevent accidental drowning in children.

Meade said it is her involvement in the community through her business that she believes helps her to better understand its needs. She said she relies on clients, family and friends to express which needs should be prioritized.

“We have to make it enticing for people to want to be here, because right now Marion County Fire (Rescue) is known for the suicides. That’s disgusting. That’s not OK,” she said.

Although first responders make up only about 1.4% of the workforce in Florida, their suicide rate is more than two times higher than the overall average for working-aged people in the state, according to the First Responder Suicide Deterrent Task Force. There have been four deaths classified as suicides within Marion County Fire Rescue since 2019.

Meade also expressed that, if elected, she would prioritize the improvement of roads in the county.

“I know that infrastructure is having to grow because of the growth of the county, which is beautiful,” she said. “However, we need to be taking care of all facets … nobody wants to buy a brand-new car and drive down a bumpy limestone road with potholes.”

Meade is currently opposed by Jose “Manny” Alonso, an Independent, who is a member of the Housing Finance Authority Board.

As of Aug. 2, Meade had no campaign contributions or expenditures but said she plans to spend campaign funds on advertising. Meade said that she hopes for support and backing from the Professional Firefighters of Marion County.

One seat on the county commission is currently vacant after former commissioner Jeff Gold’s resignation in early June. Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to name a person to fill that seat until the election next year.

The general election takes place on Nov. 5, 2024. The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 7, 2024, according to the Marion County Supervisor of Elections website.

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