It’s Chapter 1 of the new era for the city of Hampton, five months after nearly being dissolved.
The Bradford County city of around 500 residents will hold a citywide election today for the first time in about 10 years.
The election will feature six candidates vying for five city council seats. The candidates include Michael David Armes, Frank Bryant, William “Bill” Goodge, Freddie Johnston, Crystal Turner and Daniel Williams.
Five charter amendments are also up for vote on the ballot. The amendments include the position of mayor being changed from an elected to an appointed position, the elimination of city marshall and police, reducing the elected city council seats from six to five, changing the date of city elections and the county supervisor of elections conducting all city elections.
“I think the city of Hampton has embraced this process,” said Bradford County Supervisor of Elections Terry Vaughan.
“I think the city of Hampton residents are very excited about having this opportunity,” he said. “I sense that we’ll have a great turnout.”
The election comes just more than five months after state lawmakers decided to give local leaders a second chance rather than dissolving the city.
Back in February, the state released an audit revealing 31 violations of the federal, state and local level; two of which included overpayments to the former city clerk and hundreds of thousands of dollars in traffic ticket revenue.
The Bradford County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed that it’s assisting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with an ongoing criminal investigation following the findings in the audit.
Gene Brannock, running for mayor unopposed, has followed the Hampton investigation since the audit was released. If he gets the mayor’s job for more than just a brief transition, he said he’s ready to take on the new challenge
“I just hope the good Lord can give me the right guidance to go through this new era with the city of Hampton,” said Brannock.
His goal is to have the new city council work together, especially with local residents.
“The five council members and I can’t do it alone,” he said. “We’re going to need help, and I want people to step up and say, ‘I’m willing to do this,’ or ‘I’m willing to do that.'”
Brannock, along with others, is ready to help usher in a new era for the city and hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.