Voters Will Decide Sikes' Political Future; Callahan: Recall Election Scheduled for Tuesday

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Callahan voters will have one, possibly two decisions to make when they head to the polls Tuesday: Should Councilman Jack Sikes be removed from the Town Council, and, if he is removed, who should replace him.

Sikes and the three candidates who could replace him all say getting past the controversies that have engulfed the town is the most important issue facing Callahan.

This is the second time in a year that Sikes has faced the prospect of losing his seat on the council.

Sikes was voted out as council president last April after no records could be found showing he'd paid to connect his home to Callahan's water/sewer system. But he turned back an effort by fellow council members to remove him from office.

Sikes later regained the council presidency, only to lose it again in November, following the release of a preliminary state audit that found town officials routinely ignored town ordinances and state laws when dispensing state grant money, paying for services and issuing building permits, all during Sikes' tenure as council president.

Auditors also said the Florida Ethics Commission should review whether it was a conflict of interest for Sikes to approve Callahan's purchase of more than $2,600 worth of cakes, cookies and pies from his wife.

The audit findings prompted citizens to begin circulating a petition for a recall election. Those efforts proved successful, leading to Tuesday's special election.

Sikes, who said he has been on the Town Council on and off for the last 20 years, said he'd like to remain.

"I'd like to see all this controversy through," Sikes said. "I've lived in this town all my life, and up to the last year, I've had a good name in town. This is my home, and I love it, and every now and then you have a few bumps in the road."

Sikes said he wants to follow through on town infrastructure improvements he's been involved in from the beginning, including street and drainage projects.

"When people look around, they can see the difference," he said.

As Callahan voters decide whether to remove Sikes from office, they also will choose one of three candidates -- David P. Card, Ted Combs or Thomas E. Higginbotham -- to finish Sikes' term if he is ousted. His two-year term would end thisfall.

Card is a lead foreman with J.A. Jones, a contractor at the King's Bay Naval Submarine Base, and, except for a 10-year period, a lifelong resident of Callahan. Card also is a former Callahan councilman, serving from 1996 to 2000. …