Apalachicola residents vote in new mayor and commissioners

Franklin County

APALACHICOLA, Fla. (WMBB) — Two new city commissioners and a mayor were voted in on Tuesday during Apalachicola’s Municipal Election.

Current Mayor, Van Johnson Sr. has been serving as mayor since 2007 and did not seek reelection this year.

The three residents hoping to replace Johnson are Kevin Begos, Amy Hersey and Valentina Webb.

All three candidates having different platforms but agree, the financial state of the city needs to be addressed.

“First I think we should do an audit of our city and see where we stand financially. We need to do a water rate study and we also need to do a water loss audit and we need to get our rates back affordable for our senior citizens and our single-family homes,” Hersey said.

Begos agrees but also says he wants to the city’s government to be more transparent and inclusive.

“We’re nearly one million dollars in debt for a couple of different funds and the city is also more and more divided into different factions so I felt we had to go back to back to balanced budgets and more common sense spending and also bring people together,” Begos said.

Webb is a former city commissioner (2009-2013) and says she decided to run because she felt as if the city she’s served for 30 years needed her in this time of turmoil.

“I want to focus on the hiring process of a City Manager. I think we need that level of professionalism to help us with our infrastructure and water and sewer problems, trash cleanup. Also building resilience in the face of a climate crisis here within my community.”

See more from the mayoral candidates in the video above.

The city also voting in two city commissioners to replace Mitchell Bartley (seat 1) and Jimmy Elliot (seat 2).

The candidates for seat one included: Despina George, Barry Hand, George Mahr, and Ramon Valenzuela-Lopez.

Only two individuals were in the race for seat two: Torben Madson and Adriane Elliot.

“I’d like to see more transparency from the local government. I want to see more action with the community resources and assets being taken care of. A little more common sense in the budget. I’d like to see other resources that the city has on other financial avenues to help pay back the debt that we owe to the state, which is why we’ve had to raise our rates so much and to make the people of Apalachicola that did not make the decisions to put us in this position, they should not, we should not have to pay for it,” Elliot said.

When speaking with candidates, they all agree the water rate in the city is too high and the financial debt has to be fixed.

The two voted in will join city commissioners Brenda Ash and Anita Grove who were elected in 2017.

See more from the commission candidates in the video below.

The polls closed at 7:00 ET and once the votes were counted, two run-off elections are necessary.

In the mayoral race, Webb and Begos are going into the run-off.

For seat one, George and Hand will be on the ballot.

In the race for seat two, Elliot won the race with 51.20%.

To see the results from the race, click here.

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