Two Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Board candidates will claim a seat tonight if preliminary results from Precinct 18 at the Boca Grande Community Center hold up. The other two board seats will likely have to be decided Nov. 2.
But with absentee ballots yet to be counted no candidate is a lock.
Virginia "Ginger" Watkins and Patrice Dumas have the required votes - just barely - for Seats I and 2, respectively.
David Hayes is leading Marguerite "Cookie" Potter for Seat 4 and Skip Perry is ahead of Michael "Tim Yonker and Dick Ryan for Seat 5. But no one in those fraces is even close to a 50 percent vote total.
A total of 125 votes were cast at the community center in a rainy day where absentee ballots will decide the election. The absentee ballot count will be posted in the next Gasparilla Gazette election story online at bocagrandetalk.com and in Thursday's print edition.
Eleven GIBA Board candidates are vying tonight for four open seats. Those who garner 50 percent of the vote total avoid a runoff in the general election.
GIBA Primary Election Prelim Results
Virginia "Ginger" Watkins68
David Hayes 61
Marguerite "Cookie" Potter43
Michael Tim Yonker44
Candidates are running to fill the seats of GIBA Board members David Rohrer, George Castrucci, Grace Harvey and Peter Sholley - all were term-limited. Castrucci was filling out the term of the late Lyman Randall and the other terms run out Nov. 10.
Questions are still being asked about the validity of the vote. As many as 35 percent of the Gasparilla Island absentee votes were sent through the mail and many were returned to sender a number of times because of a postal scanning problem that sent the envelopes back to voters rather than on to be counted.
Of the roughly 343,000 registered voters in Lee County and 116,000 in Charlotte, only about 1,400 matter in the GIBA race, including 1,105 Lee County voters and 382 Charlotte County voters. The magic number for any GIBA candidate is roughly 700 votes to guarantee victory.
The Lee County Supervisor of Elections write-in ballot problem with the balky bar code on the return envelope for the mail-in ballots was more an embarrassmentt to Sharon Harrington, Lee County supervisor of elections, than a hindrance to the election, she said.
The primary election issue revolved around the controversial Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority's $40 million replacement plans for the three aging island spans.