It was a slow day at the polls county-wide on Tuesday, according to officials from the Collier County Supervisor of Elections. Despite some news reports that blamed the low turnouts on a rainy day, one official believed it was the races that made for the activity.

"There were less voters than we had hoped for, but approximately the same as two years ago," said Dave Carpenter, qualifying officer for the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office. "There was only one county commissioner race on the ballot, and those tend to bring out more voters."

He noted that information as of press time is not official and won't be until Friday afternoon, when the votes are fully qualified. Initial statistics reflect 93 of the 94 precincts.

Three candidates vied for the historic Collier County Group 6 Judge seat, historic in the fact this is the first election to the post, as others were appointed by the governor.

Mike Carr won the election with 13,854 votes (approximately 50 percent) with opponents Jacqueline J. Buyze garnishing 8,440 votes (31 percent) and Jim McGarity 5,324 votes (19 percent).

In this primary election, when any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they are automatically dclared the winner. If not, the two that get the most votes go to the November general election.

The School Board race for District 1 - which represents Marco Island - will pit incumbent Patricia Carroll (who got 13,534 votes, or 48 percent) against Kenneth Drum (who got 9,483 votes, or 34 percent). Candidate Richard Thern received 4,971 votes, or 18 percent of the vote.

"I'm getting a lot of congratulatory responses from Marco, many are thanking me for my support for the Marco Charter School and schools on the island," said Carroll the morning after the election.

"Its very tough to get a majority in a three-way race," he said. "I entered the campaign only six weeks ago and I received about 9,500 votes, so I'm happy about that."

In addition, Drum has strong ties to Marco. "My wife was a teacher's aide at Tommie Barfield Elementary. She was the crossing guard that wore all the different outfits," he said, noting her recent retirement. "My opinion is that Marco has some great schools, but unfortunately the rest of the district doesn't have anything near it. Even in our better schools in the district we only perform better when we compare ourselves to other Florida districts and unfortunately we rank below the national average for support for education, and the district test scores show it. What I want to do is raise standards and at the same time, raise accountability."

"The Superintendent was given a $195,000 salary and $750 a month car allowance, and $400 in expenses where he doesn't have to turn in receipts," he said. "He also got lifetime medical and prescription drug insurance for him and his family. That's not my idea of fiscal responsibility. And my opponent approved the contract and sees nothing wrong with it."

"Part of that is true and part of it isn't," said Carroll in response to Drum's comment. "I have big issues with some terms of the contract. I had two choices though: to ratify the contract as negotiated and continue stable leadership for the district, or to reject it and start looking for the fourth superintendent in three years. I choose to ratify the contract because a fourth superintendent search would have destabilized the district and would have hurt morale and interfered with academic achievement."

Carroll continued, "There's one other thing people need to know. [Superintendent of Schools] Mr. Baker forfeited a $200,000 lump sum retirement payment from the state retirement program by coming to work July 1 of this year. Part of the [new] contract was structured to help him recoup his loss for staying a superintendent."

In a very close County Commissioner District 2 race, incumbent Frank Halas got the Republican party nod to go on to the general election and face independent candidate Michael Lissack. Halas received 3,329 votes (54 percent), with opponent Joe Foster getting 2,881 votes (46 percent).

While he doesn't represent Marco Island, Halas said he does vote on matters up through the Isles of Capri, noting that "I always look carefully at whatever items come before the county concerning the Isles of Capri and other unincorporated areas surrounding Marco, for what's good for the citizens."

In other local results, in the School Board District 3 race, incumbent Steve Donovan won with 12,734 votes (46 percent). He will face challenger Kathy Ryan, who garnered 7,982 votes (28 percent). Local businessman Larry Mullins took third place with 5,683 votes (20 percent) while Lee County teacher Luis Jimenez came in last with 1,726 votes (6 percent).

In District 5, incumbent Dick Bruce barely beat out challenger Virginia Ortino. He received 7,791 votes (28 percent) to her 7,234 votes (26 percent). Bruce will go up against Richard Calabrese, who garnered 13,055 votes (46 percent).

Attorney General Charlie Crist easily won the Republican nomination to replace Gov. Jeb Bush, and U.S. Rep. Jim Davis narrowly defeated state Sen. Rod Smith in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

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