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Commissioner James Satcher applies to be supervisor of elections

Retiring Supervisor Mike Bennett is recommending Scott Farrington, the office’s longtime chief of staff.

Manatee County District 1 Commissioner James Satcher
Manatee County District 1 Commissioner James Satcher
Photo by Ian Swaby
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Manatee County District 1 Commissioner James Satcher is one of two candidates who has submitted an application to be appointed the county’s supervisor of elections.

Satcher is seeking the appointment from Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace retiring Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett. Bennett announced in late December he will retire March 1. His position is up for election in November. He submitted his resignation letter Feb. 1.

The other candidate seeking the post is Scott Farrington, who has served 11 years as chief of staff and No. 2 elections official in the supervisor’s office.

Bennett told the Observer he is retiring “because of my age."

"My next birthday (Jan. 1, 2025), I’ll be 80. I want to spend more time with my wife.”

He also said, “I really felt my heart wasn’t into it, and my drive wasn’t into” another presidential election.

Bennett has held the position since being elected in 2012 and reelected in 2016 and 2020.

With Bennett leaving with only months remaining in his term, DeSantis is now charged with appointing a replacement before March 6. That is the day Florida’s 67 county canvassing boards perform two tasks for the upcoming presidential primary: issuing permission to the supervisors’ offices to open ballots and running what is known as a logic and accuracy test, a mock election to verify all the equipment is operating.

Mike Bennett has been Manatee County's supervisor of elections since 2013.
Photo by Jay Heater

Asked why he applied for the supervisor’s position, Satcher told the Observer: “Election integrity is important. I’m willing to serve in whatever way I can make the biggest difference.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Satcher said, “I have an amazing role right now. I love being the commissioner for District 1.

Asked if his application suggests he no longer wants to be a commissioner, he said: “That has nothing to do with it. A public servant is generally going to be looking or open to the role where he can make the biggest difference and do the most good. That’s how I’ve made decisions my whole life, honestly."

Asked if he hopes he is appointed, Satcher said: “I have a lot of trust in the governor. … If the governor says, ‘No, let’s go another way; this guy has been here a long time and let’s let him do it, then I’m going to move on and keep fighting the fights I fight now. Keep on trying to invest in infrastructure and move the county forward and get prepared for the future.

Scott Farrington is running for supervisor of elections
Courtesy image

“If the governor says we need somebody like James in this position, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and go to work.”

Farrington has 21 years of experience in supervisors’ of elections offices, including five years as the No. 2 chief of staff in the Sarasota County supervisor’s office and 11 years in that position in Manatee County.

His experience includes serving on the front lines of 50 elections, including five presidential and six gubernatorial elections.

Farrington is the only certified elections administrator in Manatee County and is a Master Florida Certified Election Professional. He holds a master’s degree from the University of South Florida.

In his application for appointment, Farrington said: “I'm not a politician. My only focus is honest, transparent elections, and I put in the work every day to make that happen.”

Bennett recommended Farrington to the governor.

“Scott is very cool under pressure, and he is as cheap as I am about spending taxpayers’ money. He watches every nickel going in and out,” Bennett told the Observer. “The staff loves him and loves his leadership. I just can’t say enough about him.”



Matt Walsh

Matt Walsh is the CEO and founder of Observer Media Group.

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