Ponte Vedra Emerges as a Political Power
Mattson, Marcia, The Florida Times Union
********** CORRECTION (9/4/98)
A graphic on Page A-1 yesterday about the St. Johns County
Commission race should have stated the figures applied only to
votes cast in the District 2 race.
The Ponte Vedra area came into its own Tuesday as a countywide
political power, and two St. Johns County commissioners felt its
County Commission Chairman Moses A. Floyd was tossed from
office in his primary race. Two challengers, John Reardon and
Ron Sanchez, were chosen to vie for Floyd's seat in an Oct. 1
It was the first election under a new system. From now on,
candidates are elected by voters countywide -- not just by the
voters living in their district.
"Ponte Vedra actually decided the outcome of this race," Floyd
said yesterday. Floyd won only 20 percent of the Ponte Vedra
area vote, while challenger Sanchez had the strongest showing
there at 37 percent.
The other incumbent in Tuesday's primary, Commissioner David
Bruner of St. Augustine, trailed Ponte Vedra Beach resident Mary
Kohnke in the race for the District 4 seat, which includes Ponte
The primary results could signal a long-range shift in power in
St. Johns County, as the northern part of the county develops
faster -- and its generally affluent residents turn out to vote
in higher numbers -- than the traditional political power base
around St. Augustine.
Floyd said he is concerned about wealthy Ponte Vedra residents
deciding county policies for his constituents -- poorer
Hastings, Lincolnville and Elkton residents -- because people
from the two areas have "nothing close to being in common, other
than being human beings."
In District 4, Bruner has to face the upstart Kohnke in an Oct.
1 runoff. Bruner could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kohnke and Sanchez both said residents in Ponte Vedra and
countywide are signaling unhappiness with the incumbents'
A Times-Union analysis showed Bruner led with votes in every
one of the county's five districts except District 4, where he
drew only 16 percent of the vote. Kohnke led in absentee votes.
Kohnke noted she and other challengers have criticized Floyd
and Bruner heavily for receiving a large campaign war chest from
developers, and for what they feel are inadequate growth
Candidates also have been speaking out against staff cuts and
the firing of former county administrator Nicholas Meiszer, as
well as the selection of a replacement who was not on a citizen
committee's list of choices. Sanchez was on the committee.
"People don't forget that," Kohnke said of the Meiszer and
staff issues. …