Incumbent Cecilia Jones falls short of re-election.
The Walton County Commission will welcome two new board members in January as Danny Glidewell routed incumbent Cecilia Jones in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
Local restaurateur Trey Nick also won by a wide margin by defeating local businessman Bill Fletcher.
Both Glidewell and Nick technically still face November election battles with write-in candidates. Michael Burke is slated to face Glidewell and Barbara Brooke to face Nick. Neither Burke nor Brooke has raised any money for a campaign. Their candidacies served to prevent anyone but Republicans from participating in Tuesday’s election.
Glidewell emerged victorious by a nearly 1,300-vote margin to secure 56 percent of the voting tally to Jones' 44 percent. He did so despite being outspent by a three-to-one margin and attacked by Tallahassee-based political action groups who spent thousands on negative advertising.
“I thought it would be closer because of the amount of money that has been spent,” Glidewell said. “I’m grateful the people saw through it.”
Glidewell appeared to have won many South Walton precincts that he had lost badly to Jones in 2014, when both ran against then-District 2 incumbent Kenneth Pridgen. But the new commissioner also did very well in North Walton County, where he has resided for 56 years.
He said he believes north county voters took special offense to the personal attacks he suffered.
“I’ve lived here all my life. People, especially in the north end, know me,” he said. “When somebody calls me ‘Scary Danny,’ people know better.”
The Nick-Fletcher race played out much better for the big money candidate. Nick, owner of Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Basin Bayou, was able to put $67,000 into his race while Fletcher spent about $25,000.
Nick did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking comment, but an obviously upset Fletcher also grumbled about the dollars spent by outside groups on negative advertising. It’s a phenomenon that has plagued Walton County Commission races during the last two election cycles.
Unofficial results show Nick receiving 65 percent, or 7,110 of the county’s votes, while roughly 35 percent, or 3,738, went to Fletcher.
Glidewell said it is his intention as the District 2 commissioner to represent the North County. He said he wants to focus attention on bringing high quality jobs to the areas of Paxton, DeFuniak Springs and Freeport.
“I want to start exploring putting a sports complex in the north part of the county for economic development, and I want to see the TDC operating countywide, promoting the entire county and bringing the county together.”
Glidewell said he sees South Walton needs as well that need addressing.
“We’ve got to get a handle on infrastructure, and we’ve got to work on beach access and parking,” he said.
Jones did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Tuesday's defeat marks the second time Jones has lost a county commission bid after serving a four-year term.
She was elected for the first time in 2008 when she ran for the South Walton District 5 seat vacated by Cindy Meadows, Walton County’s first female commissioner. Meadows had stepped aside due to health issues.
In 2012 Meadows challenged Jones in District 5 and by a margin of a mere 152 votes regained the seat.
Two years later, though, Jones moved to District 2 and faced off against Pridgen and Glidewell. Glidewell on Tuesday avenged his loss to her in 2014 election.
Walton Sun reporter Nathan Cobb contributed to this report.