FORT WALTON BEACH — Voters who are ready for a break from state and national elections might be surprised to learn that municipal contests are just around the corner.
In Okaloosa County, candidate hopefuls are pre-filing for a long list of local offices from Laurel Hill to Shalimar.
Niceville voters will head to the polls Jan. 22 for a special election, while voters in Fort Walton Beach, Shalimar, Cinco Bayou, Crestview and Laurel Hill will cast ballots March. 12.
Interest generated by the recent presidential election does not necessarily translate into a high turnout for local races, said Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux.
“It really depends on who’s running and if people are really energized about getting a particular individual elected or keeping someone from getting elected,” he said. “Like a lot of things, it really, truly depends on candidates and issues.”
Lux cited Laurel Hill, which is considering placing a referendum on the ballot to dissolve the city.
“In Laurel Hill, they’ve only got about 350 registered voters in the city, but a referendum … is bound to draw a lot more attention,” he said.
Lux said he finds it interesting that local elections often generate low interest.
“I always tell people these local municipal races — your county commission and school board races — these are the people who have their hand on your wallet,” he said. “Much more so than the people in Washington do. … People should be turning out in droves for the local races.”
In Niceville, voters will elect a City Council member to replace Bill Smith, who resigned to run for the Okaloosa County Commission. Smith left the council Nov. 20, City Clerk Dan Doucet said.
“We haven’t had many inquiries,” he said of he open seat. “I’ve got 10 packets ready, but you never know.”
Smith’s term ends July 13.
Qualifying for the Niceville election is from noon Tuesday to noon Friday.
In the March 12 election, Fort Walton Beach voters will elect a mayor and four City Council members.
Former City Councilman Mike Holmes has pre-filed to run for the seat left vacant by Dennis Reeves, who resigned to run for the County Commission. Councilmen Bobby Nabors and C.H. “Bull” Rigdon also have prefiled to run for their seats.
In Shalimar, voters will elect a mayor and two town commissioners. In Cinco Bayou, voters will elect three Town Council members while Crestview voters will elect a city clerk and three City Council members.
Crestview City Councilman Charles Baugh and City Clerk Elizabeth Miller Roy have prefiled to run for their seats.
In Laurel Hill, voters will elect a mayor and two City Council members.
Qualifying for the March 12 election begins at noon Dec. 31 and runs through noon Jan. 4.
“It’s kind of strange because we’re interrupted by a federal holiday, and there is no provision in the law to extend it to accommodate for that holiday,” Lux said.
Elections offices in Fort Walton Beach and Crestview will be closed on New Year’s Day, he noted.
Potential candidates in Cinco Bayou, Fort Walton Beach and Shalimar can pickup qualifying packets at Lux’s office in the county Water and Sewer Administration Building at 1804 Lewis Turner Blvd.
Qualifying packets for the Crestview and Laurel Hill elections are available at his office in the Buddy Brackin Building at 302 N. Wilson St., Suite 102 in Crestview.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Kari Barlow at 850-315-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KariBnwfdn.