Election 2020: Milton City Council seats won by Matthew Jarrett, Roxanne Meiss, Jeff Snow
Three contested seats on the Milton City Council were on the ballot Tuesday, and by the end of the night, Matthew Jarrett won in Ward I, Roxanne Meiss was the winner in Ward II and Jeff Snow took Ward III.
Ward IV's incumbent Casey Powell was also elected. He ran unopposed.
The four newly elected members will join newly appointed Councilman David T. Richardson Jr. on the council, along with Shannon Rice, George Jordan and Sharon Holley.
The new council members will be tasked with leading Milton through a period of growth with a new wastewater treatment plant, downtown revitalization with the courthouse soon moving from its historic building and maybe even the potential widening of U.S. 90 through downtown Milton.
Milton City Council Ward I
In Ward I, Matthew Jarrett, a construction superintendent, defeated incumbent Peggi Smith, who served for one term and previously worked as a talk radio host.
With all three precincts reported, Jarrett earned 54.95% of the vote over Smith's 45.05%. That equates to 2,560 votes for Jarrett versus Smith's 2,099 votes, according to Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections' unofficial results.
"Honestly, I'm just looking forward to making this city better. We've got to have more people in here that can work together and make things happen for the city of Milton," Jarrett said.
He said he wants people to reach out to him by messaging him on Facebook.
"My main thing is I want to listen to the constituents and see what they want to happen for Milton," Jarrett said.
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Jarrett's campaign raised $3,180, compared to Smith's $1,340, according to the latest financial disclosure documents.
Before the election, Jarrett said he was not supportive of widening U.S. 90 because he thought downtown Milton should be walkable. He also had concerns over whether saving the historic courthouse would be a financially sound decision.
Jarrett told the News Journal on Tuesday his priority once seated will be to get business to Milton and bring more revenue to the city.
"Right now, I just want to celebrate with my family," Jarrett said.
Milton City Council Ward II
Roxanne Meiss, mother of former Milton Mayor Wesley Meiss, defeated two opponents for the Ward II seat, including incumbent Mary Ellen Johnson and Rufus O'Neal Baker Jr.
Meiss earned 39.49% of the votes, followed by Johnson at 35.96% and O'Neal at 24.55%. Meiss grabbed 1,858 votes, while Johnson had 1,692 and O'Neal had 1,155.
"I was so excited. I just can't wait to get started. I just want to move Milton forward and get going on so many different projects that they've got in the works. I just can't wait to get busy and get going. It's just going to be a wonderful four years," Meiss said
Meiss was the top earner at $5,900 in donations for her campaign. She was followed by Johnson's campaign, which raised $2,600, and O'Neal, who raised $1,575.
While campaigning, Meiss touted her experience with her career in commercial banking and business development, dependent on the expanded capacity of the new wastewater treatment plant.
She has a number of ideas on how to grow business in Milton, including forming a committee with commercial bankers to attend chamber meetings in communities outside of Milton to encourage them to expand their businesses there.
"I think that it's a wonderful time to help Milton grow and with the experience that I have in that area, I'm really excited about that," Meiss said after her election Tuesday.
Meiss said she plans to get out to talk to those in her ward and listen to their opinions and bring it back to the council with her.
Once seated, her main priority will be to look into an alternative to widening U.S. 90 though Milton's downtown, which is in the Florida Department of Transportation's control.
"That's dear to my heart. I love the downtown and that's going to be one important thing, that I would love to find an alternate route and convince people that that's what we need to do instead of tearing up the downtown and destroying the historic district. That's my primary thing that I would like to work on," she said.
Milton City Council Ward III
In Ward III, incumbent Jeff Snow, who has served one term and is a real estate agent by trade, defeated newcomer Cecilia J. Folzman, an emergency room nurse.
Snow earned 51.59% of the vote, which totals 2,447 votes. Folzman was close behind at 48.41% of the vote or 2,296 ballots.
Snow's campaign was the top earner at $5,550, according to financial disclosure documents. Folzman raised $4,669.77.
"(It's) very exciting for our city. I think our city is moving in the right direction so that's what I'm looking forward to," Snow said.
While campaigning, Snow said he is against the expansion of U.S. 90 and said there should be a solution that would use a "grid" to push people out onto other roads so not everyone is traveling on the same road. He also said the new wastewater treatment plant is vital for business growth, especially in the area's industrial parks for high-paying jobs.
"Well, we have our wastewater treatment plant that's going to be starting in January, which is big for the whole county, not just our city," Snow said Tuesday evening, adding the council also will be focusing on downtown.
Snow said that he believed voters liked the council's recent accomplishments, including building new roads, sidewalks and growing reserves.
"I think they finally like the change that's going on and I think they look forward to more of that and expect it," Snow said.