Nassau County supervisor of elections

Sheriff Bill Leeper, Clerk of Court John Crawford, Property Appraiser John Hickox and Tax Collector John Drew are unopposed for reelection. Superintendent of Schools Kathy Burns won re-election in the August primary.

So the only countywide race on the ballot in November is for supervisor of elections, an office being vacated by Vicki Cannon.

Janet Adkins was elected in a three-way Republican primary for supervisor of elections, an office being vacated by Vicki Cannon.

Scroll down to read candidates’ responses to our News4Jax questionnaire, verbatim as provided.

Janet Adkins

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 54 years old

Candidate’s family: Married to Doug Adkins for 23 years. Daughter Emily (21) is a senior at University of North Florida, majoring in Health Administration. Son Douglas (19) is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina Honors College and is pre-med.

Occupation: Chief Administrative Officer, Dayspring Village, Inc., and Dayspring Senior Living

Education: Graduated valedictorian, Trinity Christian Academy 1983. AA, Florida State College at Jacksonville, High Honors, 1985. BS, Information Science, University of North Florida, Magna Cum Laude, 1987. MBA, University of North Florida, 1990

Political experience: Florida House of Representatives, 2008-2016. Nassau County School Board, 1998-2008. Republican State Committeewoman, Nassau County, 2000-2012. Member, Republican Party of Florida Rules Committee, 2007. Vice Chair, Republican 4th Congressional Caucus, 2001-2003. Chair, Republican 4th Congressional Caucus, 2003-2005

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  1. Ensuring safe, accessible, and secure elections will be my top priority. Technology must be constantly checked to ensure that the coding and firewalls are effective and to ensure that malware is not loaded on a workstation with access to election data. All devices that are removable or transmit data should be inspected/replaced periodically to ensure that voter data is not compromised. I would expand the camera surveillance system to enhance security.
  2. Federal lawsuits aimed at universal “vote by mail” (sending ballots to all voters regardless of whether they requested these ballots) and “ballot harvesting” (to allow an expansion of current state law to authorize more people to pick up “vote by mail” ballots). I am opposed to both universal “vote by mail” and “ballot harvesting” and will lend my voice if elected to offer the reasons why these changes should NOT be implemented.
  3. Infection Control – with COVID19 we will need to consider safe, smart methods to maintain voting facilities that prevent infection and allow voters the confidence to early vote and to vote on election day. Because of my healthcare experience, I have the necessary skills to address this challenge and keep our voters safe.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

The Supervisor of Elections is a position of public trust. Trust in our elections process is essential to an orderly transfer of power; and it is a key qualification when selecting Nassau County’s next Supervisor of Elections.

Our next Supervisor of Elections must be someone that you know and trust. Trust is earned; not granted. Trust takes time and requires a proven track record. Trust is created through community engagement and public service. I have served Nassau County in public office for 18 years and have demonstrated that I will follow the law and be a strong leader.

Elections experience comes from various sources. I have the experience of being a candidate, serving as a public official, serving in leadership roles within a major political party, serving as a poll watcher, and assisting with supervised voting for the elderly and disabled.

My Master of Business Administration degree and private sector experience in software development, project management, budgeting, accounting, supervising, training, and LEADING make me the most qualified candidate to continue the tradition of well-run elections in Nassau County.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

Maintaining the public trust is the highest priority. Helping our veterans, seniors, disabled, and citizens register to vote, find their voting location, resolving their eligibility questions, and keeping the voters informed are core responsibility of SOE. I would use the Electronic Registration Information Center to engage in targeted outreach to eligible, unregistered residents and use public service announcements on radio and TV to help people understand how their vote can make a difference.

I will also explore using the Nassau County Emergency Alert Notification system to communicate early voting dates; locations and hours; vote by mail opportunities; and precinct locations.

The power of one voice in this nation can make a difference and I will work to ensure all voices are heard.

If elected, how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I recently attended a judicial forum in Nassau County focused on the topic of racial justice. The forum specifically focused on a December 2016 article published by the Herald-Tribune, “Bias on the Bench”. I believe that voting rights are at the very foundation of helping build a stronger social fabric in our community.

If elected I would work to ensure that residents are educated more broadly on restoration of voting rights and how the petition process works to have voting rights restored. It is my belief that when people become engaged in their community through voting, there is less crime; and when they have a greater voice in deciding who represents them, there is greater responsiveness to the needs of their community.

Elections are essential to the peaceful transfer of power and we must ensure that we provide equal access to the ballot box for everyone.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

I believe that the new normal of COVID-19 and the increase in vote by mail ballots will have the following impacts:

• Workload Increase – We can expect an increase in the workload as more voters request a vote-by-mail ballot. This will create a demand for employees, postage, processing and handling of these ballots and verification of the signatures.

• Signature Cards – There will be a greater need to update the signature cards to ensure that the signatures accurately reflect those on the vote-by-mail ballots. This is particularly important for the elderly whose signatures change with aging.

• Ballot Security – The expanded use of vote-by-mail will require greater storage management and installation of security cameras to help ensure the safety and handling of the ballots prior to tabulation.

• Infection Control - it has been reported that some strains of Coronavirus can live for up to five days on an envelope. It will be important to ensure that election workers that are assigned to handling the large number of ballots are kept safe and prevent infection threats. ( I would ensure that appropriate procedures for handling these ballots are put into place prior to allowing these ballots to be handled or processed.

• The impact of COVID-19 will require that we also have strong infection control procedures in place to ensure social distancing in and around the polling location. For voters that decide to early vote and to vote on election day we would ensure that infection control procedures include provisions for social distancing, plexiglass barriers, personal protective equipment, and hand sanitizer. We would ensure all voting locations are disinfected after each voter to help control the risk of infection.

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Campaign’s social media pages: Facebook

Justin Taylor

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 37

Candidate’s family: Wife: Shannon Conn Taylor; Son: Brayden Taylor (10 years old)

Occupation: Nassau County Commissioner

Education: Studied Business at FSCJ

Political experience: Elected Nassau County Commissioner in 2016

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

Fair, secure, and accurate elections: This will always be the top priority in order to protect the integrity of the elections process. Focusing on attention to detail, proper testing of the equipment, implementing up-to-date security standards and ensuring proper ballot chain of custody are all critical measures.

Threat assessment: With the threat of COVID-19 and the newness of dealing with pandemics, we need to continue to evaluate what has occurred and how we can better prepare for future pandemics.

Shared resources: Millions of tax dollars have been saved through the sharing of Information Technology (IT), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and staffing services through interlocal agreements. I will continue to collaborate with other offices to utilize shared resources in order to reduce costs and save tax dollars.

In addition, I will work to increase voter participation through establishing programs within our libraries, schools, and other organizations to help educate our younger generation on the importance of the elections process.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

My experience as a small business owner, County Commissioner, and my leadership roles within many community organizations provides the skillset needed to begin working with a great staff to continue the excellent work of the previous Supervisor of Elections. I have had the experience of working with our current Supervisor on issues related to the office including building security and enhancements as well as reviewing and understanding the budget. In addition, as the Public Information Officer for another local constitutional office, I worked with key staff and found ways to improve upon customer related services while saving tax dollars and maintaining efficiency in operations.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I would hope that after my time as Supervisor of Elections, I am remembered as someone who worked hard for the citizens to ensure fair, secure, and accurate elections while establishing programs to encourage voter registration and turnout.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

It is incumbent upon the position to ensure a fair process for every registered voter. As Supervisor of Elections, I will make sure that everyone is treated equally with fairness and respect and that every vote will count. In addition, I will ensure that voting is easily accessible within the law and is encouraged for all registered voters.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

With the need for social distancing, there are new challenges as it relates to polling locations, election workers, and voting. It's critical that the Supervisor of Elections promotes a safe and healthy environment for the voters by maintaining CDC social distancing and sanitation recommendations. Voting booths should be seperated more than 6' apart and properly sanitized after each voter. This may require additional staff in the polling locations to ensure these requirements are met. Election workers are understandably concerned and therefore may not wish to participate during the upcoming elections. This causes additional challenges in finding replacements for these workers so additional personnel will need to be on standby. In addition, vote by mail is expected to increase as many voters may not want to subject themselves or others to potential health risks. Staff will need to be prepared to handle the influx of vote-by-mail ballot requests and returns.

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