ORANGE PARK – Keystone Heights voters opted to elect their interim mayor over the Seat 4 incumbent while Orange Park voted in a newcomer to the scene during the April 10 Super Tuesday election. …
ORANGE PARK – Keystone Heights voters opted to elect their interim mayor over the Seat 4 incumbent while Orange Park voted in a newcomer to the scene during the April 10 Super Tuesday election.
For Keystone Heights City Council Seat 4, interim Mayor Karen Lake received more than twice the amount of votes Seat 4 incumbent Dan Lewandowski received. Lake won 172 votes at 69.64 percent while Lewandowski won 75 votes at 30.36 percent.
In Orange Park, semi-retired insurance broker Roland Mastandrea won Seat 3 with 441 votes at 55.54 percent while one-term council member Nix won 353 votes at 44.46 percent.
Mastandrea said he woke up feeling great and not just because he won Seat 3.
“I feel great. I really do,” Mastandrea said. “The bigger victory last night, and another reason I’m feeling overjoyed this morning, is that last night the [Clay County Board of Commissioners] voted to rescind their decision to remove the ambulance from Orange Park. It was a hastily made decision but like all good politicians should do when you see that something you didn’t intend has happened, they revisited the problem and made a change.”
Mastandrea wishes he could have attended the April 10 BCC meeting where this revision took place but he spent his day at the Orange Park polling site. Despite the weather, Mastandrea spent 12 hours near the polls speaking directly with over 75 people, with the removal of Rescue 19 being a major concern among some of them.
Now that Seat 3 is his, he’s excited to bring what he’s learned from his neighborhood walks, luncheons, church visits and more to the Orange Park council.
“I’m very excited to bring ideas I ran on and the ideas people voted me in for to the council,” Mastandrea said. “Now, it’s my job to take what I’ve heard, learned and shared with the residents and make some things happen. I am so pleased and excited for what’s to come.”
Nix wishes Mastandrea the best of luck and is excited to see if Mastandrea follows through on his ideas and promises.
“We’ll just have to see because you really don’t know how someone will do until they’re sitting in that seat,” Nix said. “You can convince people all you want but once you’re in that seat, you have got to put up or shut up.”
Despite having lost the election, Nix is somewhat relieved.
“I’m certainly somewhat relieved at my loss with all of the mess going on right now in the town and county,” Nix said, referring to the removal of Rescue 19 from Orange Park and the subsequent reversal of this decision. “I’m not so sure I’d want to be sitting up there right now.”
Even though not enough showed up to the polls to yield Nix a win, he’s thankful for his supporters.
“I really appreciate all the supporters I had and it was a close race as it usually is. The town is somewhat split as you can tell,” Nix said. “It’s pretty much a tie but somebody has got to win and in this case, [Mastandrea] won.”
Last August, Keystone Heights Mayor Tony Brown stepped down leading to the city opening up the mayoral application process three times to find his replacement for who would serve until April 10’s Super Tuesday election. After having her application passed over, Lake made her way to a November council meeting at which it was assumed that Bill Dixon was to present his case for being chosen as mayor.
At that meeting, Lake said that by throwing out her application and then asking her to reapply was redundant and a move that she believes penalized her.
“If it had indeed been this council’s objective to have a larger pool of applicants, the right thing to have done was to roll over the two timely-filed applications into round two, and, ultimately, this third round,” Lake read from her prepared statement at the council meeting last year. “Why were [our applications] removed? We didn’t request for them to be removed.”
After some debate, the council voted 4-0 to allow Lake to be, again, considered as a valid candidate for mayor, Clay Today reported last December. A motion was made to vote for Dixon as the new mayor and the vote hung at 2-2. Following that motion, another motion was made to appoint Lake as mayor and that vote passed 4-0, making Lake the interim mayor.
Now, Lake has been officially voted in by the people of Keystone Heights. She could not be reached in time for comments on the election and its results, though.
Meanwhile, Lewandowski wishes Lake the best of luck.
“I’m not doing great,” Lewandowski said. “I lost the election and I don’t know what else there is to say. I thought I’d do better but the people of Keystone Heights have spoken. I wish [Lake] the best of luck.”
This year’s election served as the second-ever Super Tuesday election and according to the Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless, it once again went well.
“I think it was stellar. The process went smoothly, we had a great deal of notice prior to the election and despite the terrible weather, we had a wonderful election,” Chambless said. “The turnout is lower but I believe the weather had a significant impact on that.”
“Regardless, Super Tuesday is here to stay,” Chambless finished.
This sentiment was echoed by Orange Park Town Manager Sarah Campbell and Keystone Heights City Clerk Lynn Rutkowski.
“It’s a much smoother process having professionally trained people handle the election,” Rutkowski said. “It just makes sense to do [elections] this way.”