All the votes have now been counted and incumbent city commissioner Michael S. Sparkman won another term Tuesday, according to unofficial results released by the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Election Craig Latimer, with all precincts reporting.
Sparkman, with 55.62% of the vote (985 votes) beat out challenger and political newcomer Jeremy Griner who received 44.38% of the vote (786 votes). While Sparkman had a lead in the polls with Vote by Mail and Early Ballots (Sparkman’s 730 to Griner’s 486), Election Day voters favored Griner (300) over Sparkman (255) but that late-surge wasn’t enough to propel him to the win.
There are 22,261 registered voters in Plant City. In this week’s election, 1,774 voters cast a ballot, a dismal 7.97% voter turnout. In accordance with Florida statute, the first unofficial returns will be reported and certified on April 6 at 5 p.m., after provisional ballots and Vote By Mail cure affidavits have been reviewed and any additional votes tabulated.
Although the greater percentage of voters cast their ballots before election day, hundreds trickled into City Hall to vote in-person, including Plant City residents Matt Wendt and Debbie Gray.
Wendt, who’s lived in Plant City for 44 years, tries to vote in every election. “If you don’t like the ways things are you can’t complain if you don’t take the time to go vote and express your feelings,” he said.
Gray also considers voting a civic responsibility. “These are the people that run our town and they need to know what the people want,” she said.
After the results came in, Sparkman gathered with a large group of supporters at his home. “It’s been a long journey and I’ve been very successful in doing a lot of good for our community and hope to continue that,” said Sparkman. “Plant City’s citizens can depend on me doing the right thing on their behalf.”
This win marks Sparkman’s tenth term. He will be recognized by the Florida League of Cities next month for 30 years of service as a commissioner for the City of Plant City.
For Griner, who celebrated the end of the election with his supporters at Root’s, it isn’t the end. As a first-time candidate, he plans to take the lessons he’s learned.
“It’s been an amazing experience and grass-roots campaign thanks to my wife and all my supporters,” he said. “I want to congratulate Mike Sparkman, he’s done an amazing job for such a long time and I know he’ll continue to work hard for the city.”
When asked about his plans for the future, Griner was resolute. “Plant City hasn’t seen the last of me,” he said.
Sparkman will be sworn in at the June 12th commission meeting at City Hall. For more information about the election results visit www.votehillsborough.gov.