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"It's been 44 years": Race to lead the Collier County Elections Office heats up

For the first time in 44 years, people in Collier County will get to vote for a Supervisor of Elections.
Posted at 5:09 PM, Jun 21, 2024

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — For the first time in 44 years, people in Collier County will get to vote for the Supervisor of Elections.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Melissa Blazier 13 months ago, but now, she's up against two people who want her job.

It's the first time this race will be on the ballot since 1980, because every candidate since has run unopposed.

"It's stressful, especially with the role I'm in that I actually have to conduct the election where I'm on the ballot," Blazier said.

With over 18 years of experience in the office, Blazier says she's the best person for the job.

Despite her being appointed, she is not the Republican party's pick. In May, the Collier County Republican Executive Committee endorsed her opponent, Dave Shaffel.

"No one's paying attention to what's happening to our technology," Shaffel said.

He has a background in IT, and says while the county runs smooth during elections, he wants more transparency on voter ballots.

"I believe we have systems in place that cannot guarantee we have only legal votes on our voter rolls," he said. "We have a system where we can't guarantee that these tabulators are actually county the votes as cast."

Collier County Community Correspondent Mahmoud Bennett spoke with another candidate running from a law enforcement perspective. Tim Guerrette says the "tech factor" is important, but says his service and the Chief of Operations at the Collier County Sheriff's Office gives him a leg up in safeguarding out elections.

"What I really want to do, my background in law enforcement allows me to stand up an investigate unit within the Supervisor of Elections Office, which will allow me to look at anomalies that are occurring or potential fraud in our election here in our county," Guerrette explained.

These are two approaches incumbent supervisor Melissa Blazier takes issue with.

"These gentleman think that they're going to be able to come in and change election laws. If that's what they think, this is the wrong job to run for."

All three candidates will be on the primary ballot in August, but only one will make it onto the General Election ballot in November.