It’s election season for those running for office.
It’s busy season for Jerry Holland and his staff at the supervisor of elections office.
While the first of at least four elections takes place Tuesday, Holland has been preparing since April. That’s when prep work goes into training materials for poll workers, followed by training in May. After that comes laying out ballots, programming machines and the like, all in anticipation of voters heading to the polls months later.
“We’ve got two elections this fall,” said Holland. “Then we turn right around for March and May … that doesn’t even include two potential special elections.”
The March and May elections are local and will have mayoral, sheriff and City Council races on them. The special elections could be for a congressional seat and State House 13.
“You can’t budget for it,” he said of special elections and recounts.
He serves as president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections and said talk among those following the governor’s race could be close enough to have a statewide recount.
That would mean heading to City Council to ask for more than the $8.8 million requested in next year’s budget that starts Oct. 1. It’s an increase of more than $2 million from last year, but the two more elections require the funds.
He came into office after a special election of his own, into what he calls a “tough situation.” The previous supervisor, John Stafford, fell ill and couldn’t continue. Bill Scheu filled in on an interim level until Holland won the special election.
With the uncertainty, technology upgrades lagged and staff had fallen behind in training.
Plus, there was that whole presidential election of 2000 that still made Florida a punching bag in the political world.
Rebuilding that trust with voters and both political parties was paramount, Holland said. He believes since being in office it’s been restored.
On the technology front, he estimates the office has invested more than $7 million in upgrades most of for items such as electronic poll books and absentee mailing machines that will mean the office won’t be behind the curve when he is term-limited next year.
The former council president turned supervisor isn’t bowing out of the public limelight just yet. He’s running (currently unopposed) for property appraiser.
He’d still run for supervisor if he could.
“I have probably enjoyed this … more than any other part of my public life,” he said. “I love being engaged with candidates, with voters … I love the administrative side of it.”