No close calls in East County elections in races for Manatee County commission seats, Manatee school board and District 73 representative
Baugh, Kruse, Satcher easily win commission seats in Manatee County while Foreman wins runoff over Miner in Manatee school board race.
| 8:40 a.m. November 4, 2020
Suspense was not in the air when it came to elections affecting East County Nov. 3
Almost every race appeared decided when the early voting numbers were tabulated. Early voting accurately indicated all the winners, who mostly had pulled down 55% or more of the early voting.
Even the Manatee school board race, which was a runoff after a closely-contested primary between incumbent Dave Miner and challenger Mary Foreman was dominated by Foreman, who captured 58.80% of the votes.
Manatee County's referendum to establish a fund with a slight increase in property taxes to purchase environmentally significant land was passed with ease with 71.27% in favor.
District 73 Representative Tommy Gregory cruised to a second term in race against challenger David Reeves Fairey.
And voters overwhelmingly decided upon a new look for the Manatee County Commission, whose winning candidates swept to victories.
District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, a Republican who easily retained her seat over two write-in candidates, called the makeup of the new commission fresh and exciting.
"I am excited by these new members on the board," she said. "They are young and they have fresh ideas."
Baugh was talking about Republicans James Satcher, who defeated Democrat Dominique Brown in District 1, Republican George Kruse, who prevailed over one write-in candidate, and Republican Kevin Van Ostenbridge, who won over Matt Bower (no party affiliation) in District 3. All three are first-time commissioners.
"There is so much positive because these new commissioners have a plan," Baugh said. "They know what they want to accomplish to move Manatee County forward."
Satcher, who pulled down 65.60% of the vote, previously had beaten incumbent Priscilla Whisenant Trace in August’s primary election and said he is ready to begin working for the citizens.
“I am absolutely honored,” Satcher said. “It’s been a long journey, relatively, but we’re excited to be at the end. And now the big job is ahead.”
Satcher said he plans to be a voice for Manatee County taxpayers and added he will represent conservative ideals, including smaller government, lower taxes and support for the Sheriff’s Office.
“[I want] to stand up for them,” Satcher said. “The people don’t work for the government. The government works for the people. So everybody here, every citizen of Manatee County is my boss. Especially District 1, that’s my boss.
“I’m going to come into this job the same way we come into life. Our job is to put God first, then family, and then country. I believe we can do that, even on a county level. And it will make a difference for everyone.”
Foreman had 110,746 votes, in her District 3 runoff with Miner.
"It's pretty exciting," she said. "It's kind of a culmination of something that I wanted to do for a long time. I'm thrilled."
Foreman, who is 65, has served on the school board’s audit committee since its inception in 2013. She said she’ll use that experience to help the board set its priorities and have the School District of Manatee County's budget reflect those priorities.
"In the past I've been in an advisory capacity," she said. "I'm looking forward to carrying a little more weight. I'm going to be one of five so I can't say I'm going to make changes by myself, but I'm hoping through the collaboration of the board we'll be able to make some significant changes to some of the operations and finances."
She said her immediate goal is to work on restructuring public comments at board meeting and possibly changing the venue of meetings to ensure people aren't waiting outside to make comments. The board currently limits the number of people allowed in the board room due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Gregory won 64%, or 77,009 votes, in securing a second term.
“I feel such a sense of honor and responsibility,” Gregory said. “‘I’m thankful for the voter support, and I look forward to serving them and representing them.”
Gregory, who is 48, said he will use his first-term experience as he moves into his second term.
“After two years in the legislature, you have a much better understanding of how to draft legislation and how to ensure that you build support to get it through the process,” he said.
Gregory’s first priority is focusing on the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said means continuing to cut regulations and taxes.
“Small and big businesses are suffering as a result of the pandemic, and so we have to remove some roadblocks so that Florida can continue to be a model for fiscal discipline and a business friendly environment," he said. "That’s what’s going to create prosperity for all Floridians.”
Besides the economy, Gregory said he wants to prioritize working with law enforcement, defending Constitutional rights and transportation infrastructure.
Liz Ramon and Jay Heater contributed to this story.