Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Putnam Candidates Anticipate Growth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Putnam Candidates Anticipate Growth

Article excerpt

A crowded field of Putnam County Commission candidates is vying to shape the growth that candidates expect will come after the state builds a four-lane highway across the county.

Two incumbents, both Democrats, face challenges in the Sept. 5 primary. A third seat on the five-member commission is up for grabs because Commissioner Charles "Skeet" Alford is running for the Legislature.

In another primary contest, three Democrats are running for clerk of Circuit Court in a campaign made up of Palatka's mayor, a former county commissioner and a lawyer.

The race for County Commission will unfold against a backdrop of growing expectations that widening Florida 20 will spark new development in Putnam County. The state Department of Transportation's project will result in a four-lane highway through Putnam County on a route that links Palatka to Gainesville.

A common campaign theme is preparing for growth so it will boost the county's tax base without degrading the rural lifestyle. Road maintenance, particularly for unpaved roads, and public safety are also bread-and-butter issues.

District 1 County Commissioner Howard Grisham faces opposition from three challengers in the Democratic primary. They are Walter Green Jr., Nancy Harris and Stella Wells, all making their first run for office. The winner will become commissioner because no Republican filed for the seat.

District 3 Commissioner David Watts has drawn even more opposition. He will vie in the Democratic primary with Wayde Alford, Tim Brown, Hermon Somers, and former commissioner and School Board member Samuel Taylor. Waiting in the wings will be Republican Terry Turner, who is unopposed for the GOP nomination and will face the Democrat's nominee in November.

The District 5 seat, which is open because Charles Alford is running for the state House, also drew several candidates. In the Democratic Party primary, the candidates are Bob Anderson, Mark Kay Engelking, Brad Purcell, Maurice Starling and Jimmy Williams. …

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