Ocalans encouraged to run for local office

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Posted December 4, 2020 | By Lisa McGinnes, Ocala Gazette

With the 2020 general election behind us, Ocala residents have plenty of time to get involved in the local races that will be decided in September 2021.

Have you ever thought about running for local office? Three Ocala City Council seats and the position of mayor are up for grabs.

“Local elections are equally – if not more – important as national elections, yet voter turnout is significantly less,” explained Wesley Wilcox, Marion County’s supervisor of elections. “Local elected officials make decisions that affect us directly and have the greatest impact to our day-to-day lives.”

When Ocalans go to the polls, they will vote for mayor and city council districts 1, 3 and 5. District 1 encompasses the entire city of Ocala and its representative is the council member at large. That seat currently is held by longtime business owner Brent Malever, who has been on the City Council since 2013. District 3 includes the westernmost part of the city near Ocala International Airport as well as the southernmost edge of the city. District 3 Councilman Jay Musleh, who took office in 2012, said he plans to run for reelection next year. City Council district 5 includes the easternmost section of Ocala and its current representative is Council President Justin Grabelle, who was elected in 2017.

When asked if he intends to run again, Mayor Kent Guinn said, “I haven’t made that decision yet.” Guinn took office as mayor in 2011, after representing district 4 on the city council for 12 years.

So far, one candidate has filed an official intent to run in the 2021 election: Gregory Steen, for Ocala City Council district 5.

Here are the steps you can take now if you live in the city and want to run for office:

When you’re ready to announce your candidacy, you need to know who will serve as your campaign treasurer and file the official paperwork before opening a bank account or collecting or spending any money. The first step is to file intent with the Ocala City Clerk’s office, submitting form DS-DE 9, the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository, available from the Florida Department of Elections online at dos.myflorida.com.

Then, within 10 days after filing intent, a candidate must file a Statement of Candidate on the state’s form DS-DE 84, indicating they have been provided access to read and understand the requirements of Florida Statutes Chapter 106.

The next steps come during the official qualifying period, which will begin at noon on July 12 and end at noon on July 16. During that time, all candidates will be required to qualify and must file a residency affidavit, financial disclosure, candidate oath, petitions, logic and accuracy test notice, electronic filing acknowledgement and election assessment fee.

Ocala City Clerk Angel Jacobs is the qualifying officer for municipal elections and works closely with candidates for mayor and City Council and said she congratulates anyone “taking an active role in the electoral process.”

“We are ready to assist whenever we can,” Jacobs said in a written statement.

The supervisor of elections website at votemarion.gov maintains an extensive resource of information, frequently asked questions and instructions for candidates. For questions about running in a City of Ocala race, call the City Clerk’s Office at (352) 629-8266.

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