Ocala ballot set, city elections Sept. 21

Ocala City Hall is shown in 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]
With the qualifying period ending at noon on Friday, the ballot for the Sept. 21 Ocala city election is set.

The ballot will feature five races for office and three proposed charter amendments.

Only residents of the city can vote, but voters can cast ballots for all seats, regardless of their residence.

This year’s ballot also includes a special election for District 4, which is being vacated by Councilman Matt Wardell.

Wardell announced he would leave the seat in April due to increased business and educational responsibilities. The election drew six candidates for the position. The winner of the Sept. 21 election will serve out the remainder of Wardell’s term, which runs through 2023.

In the District 5 seat, incumbent Justin Grabelle decided to not seek re-election.

All 15 candidates who filed qualified to be on the ballot, according to the Marion County Supervisor of Elections office.

The races, which are all non-partisan, include:

Mayor

Kent Guinn – Incumbent

Manal Fakhoury

District 1

Brent Malever – Incumbent

Barry Mansfield

District 3

Jay A. Musleh – Incumbent

Tyler Schlichter

Russell “Rusty” Juergens

District 4

Matt Wardell – Incumbent (Wardell is resigning the seat)

Kristen Dreyer

Alexander Everts

Barbara Fitos

Lori Martin Gregory

Curtis Jones

Kevin Lopez

District 5

Justin Grabelle – Incumbent (Grabelle is not seeking re-electon)

Gregory Steen

James Hilty

Charter amendments:

One proposal would replace masculine pronouns in the charter with both feminine and masculine pronouns. Currently, the charter only includes masculine pronouns.

A second amendment changes the timeline of run-off and special elections.

The charter currently calls for run-off and special elections to happen during a 30 to 60-day window. The amendment would change that time to “as soon as reasonably practical.”

The current timeframe does not allow enough time for certain overseas ballots to arrive and be counted.

The third amendment would clarify when the terms of elected officials begin and end.

In the current charter, terms begin the first Tuesday in December after the election. The proposed change gives more specifics to prevent an overlap.

Each amendment must have a simple majority of votes – 50% plus one – to pass.

The deadline to register to vote in the election is Aug. 23. Requests for mail-in ballots must be received by 5 p.m., Aug. 13. Mail ballots must be received at the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted, according to the supervisor’s site.

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