Too Close for Comfort

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

The public parking lot across the street from the current county property appraiser's office clearly shows support for the candidate already in office, Rick Barnett. Bay County Commissioner John Newberry is also running for the seat, and he's ready to file a
complaint with the Florida Election Commission.

"Friends and supporters had notified me that they had witnessed campaign activities: signs, advertising, by the current property appraiser both in and around his office and by his employees during daytime," says Newberry.

Barnett says everyone in his office understands the law and campaign placards are not to be used during business travel.

"There's only a few vehicles that's used in the operation of this office, they are field appraisers. They never have them during the daytime," Barnett says.

Mark Andersen, the supervisor of elections, says the a person can choose to advertise a candidate on their car in a public parking lot and break no law.

"The statutes do talk about how individuals do have rights, even as employees. They have rights to make their own decisions, to support or not support individual candidates," says Andersen.

Newberry says this started when he spoke confidentially with employees at the property appraiser's office.

"I've had people who work there tell me that they support me, but they don't feel comfortable expressing that because of the situation there," he says.

Barnett says he never encouraged anyone to use his campaign material, in fact, he says it never entered the building.

"I think we have a county commissioner that has more time on his hands than I do," says Barnett.

Time used to file a formal complaint with the State of Florida Elections Commission for legal and ethical campaign violations.


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