Lee Major appears to have won a Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority seat tonight and David Hayes and Michael Tim Yonker are within a few votes of doing the same after absentee ballots were counted in preliminary Lee County balloting.
Major has collected more than 56 percent of the vote for Seat 2 to shoot past early leader Patrice Dumas, who led in on-site voting at Precinct 18 at the Boca Grande Community Center.
David Hayes has 49 percent of the vote for Seat 4 and Michael "Tim Yonker has 49 percent of the ballots for Seat 5. Both could push over the top when Charlotte County numbers are counted.
Lee Major appears to have won.
William Jack has pulled within striking distance of dominant early leader Virginia Watkins in the race for Seat 1.
All races where no candidates collected 50 percent of the vote will be decided by a runoff Nov. 2 against the top two finishers in tonight's balloting.
Hayes is leading Marguerite "Cookie" Potter in the closest race where 8 percent of the voters backed John Bourgoin, who withdrew from running for health considerations.
GIBA Primary Election Prelim Results
Ginger" Watkins 22743
David Hayes 24749
"Cookie" Potter 21942
* John Bourgoin408
Michael Tim Yonker25949
Complete and final voting will be posted 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.
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.