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Kim Shatto | Union County Commissioner, Seat 1

My name is Kim Shatto and I am excited to be running for County Commissioner in District 1.
I am a lifelong resident of Union County, married to Tim Shatto, and the daughter of Wanda and the late Billy Griffis. Tim and I have 6 children together.  My family and I are members of Sardis Baptist Church in Worthington.  I have served as my church’s treasurer, the Union County Recreation Board, the Awana Program at church and the Union County DugOut Club so public service is not new to me. I have been a successful businesswoman for 20 years  and as your commissioner, I will use proven business principals and dedication to our community to make District 1 better for my family and yours. I NEED your vote to accomplish this.

I sincerely hope you will allow me to serve the citizens of District 1. Please pray for me as well as the other candidates running in our county.

A vote for me is a vote for:
EXPERIENCE , DEDICATION, HARD WORK, TRANSPARANCY,  AND FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.

Ryan Perez | Union County Commissioner, Seat 1

My name is Ryan Perez and I am excited to continue my life's work in serving our community by running as a Republican candidate for County Commissioner District 1. My wife Alexa and I are lifelong residents of Union County. As Alexa and I begin our lives together, we feel so blessed to call Union County our permanent residence and look forward to raising our family in this community who has helped shape us into who we are today.

Before I begin, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read a little bit more about who I am and what attributes I possess that are integral for a successful candidacy in this election.

The first attribute I wish to share is that I'm a nationally accredited parliamentarian. I have committed a large portion of my life's studies to learning, interpreting, and teaching others the rules and procedures our nation uses to properly and legally conduct a business meeting. If elected, I look forward to using and upholding these skills throughout the proceedings of our county commission meetings and promise to serve as a reference when called upon.

Additionally, I am an educator at Union County High School. For just shy of a decade I have been devoted to the public service of our youth and the education system. I take great pride in pouring into the lives of our students and empowering the next generation to walk in their full potential. Much like the budget for our county, it's no secret that the budget for education is not as abundant as we may hope for. Throughout my tenure in education, I have experience in the training and execution of grant writing to further the experiences of our students. Sharing in those sentiments, I promise to be an advocate for the best uses of our county's budget through intentional deliberation and exploration of grant availability.

Lastly, I am a public relations student at the University of Florida. I believe that in life, we never stop learning. I have chosen to further my education by devoting my studies to public relations and vow to continue equipping myself with the skills necessary to be an effective communicator and advocate for my community.

Above all of these attributes that equip me with the skills to serve on our county commission, I would like to leave you with main reason why I know I have the heart to truly hear your voice, and the tenacity to work on your behalf.

I am a first generation American. My father and his family escaped communist Nicaragua and fled to the United States in the early 1980's. This was a country burdened by a regime who stripped their citizens of their basic God-given freedoms. A suppressive dictatorship that told you what school you would go to, what occupation you would have, how much bread you could buy, and even—who your political leaders would be. My father and his family risked their lives so that my siblings and I could live in these wonderful United States of America. A country who recognizes the freedoms and voices of the majority. I was raised with an inborn appreciation and respect for the voice that we all have in this democracy. Too many times have we witnessed elected officials who do not consult their constituents, but who act and make decisions on their own accord. I understand that my job as county commissioner will be to act as an extension of your voice; the voice granted to you by our Creator. I promise to advocate on your behalf and embody the voice of the majority.

Our county is currently facing impending decisions that will directly affect our environment, our economy, and the health of our citizens. I ask you not place your vote in the hands of those who may act in their own self-interest according to their personal opinions alone. I ask for the opportunity to be trusted with your vote. Let me work for YOU. Let me amplify YOUR voice. I will work tirelessly to make sure you are informed and you are heard. Thank you for your time and consideration. God bless you and God bless our wonderful county in which we all hold so dear.
Kellie Hendricks Connell | Union County Clerk of Courts

I am Kellie Hendricks Connell, and have had the privilege of serving Union County for eight years as the Clerk of Courts & Comptroller.  I am a graduate of the University of Florida and University of North Florida, and hold a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Accounting, and am a licensed CPA. Before being elected as Clerk, I worked in public accounting for 13 years.  
In working as your Clerk, I have two fundamental priorities: the first is for , the Clerk to function as checks and balances to the Board of County Commissioners as the Florida Constitution intended, and the second is to run the Clerk's Office with three goals: efficiency, transparency and accountability.  
The Clerk serves as the treasurer for the County.  The Board is meant to make spending policies and decisions, and the Clerk is tasked to pay County bills accordingly.  The Clerk serves as checks and balances to protect the taxpayers' dollar by ensuring that all transactions are legal, budgeted, serve a public purpose and are in compliance with Board policies.  My experience in public accounting gave me the knowledge necessary to design internal controls to efficiently pre-audit all invoices to ensure that funds are disbursed appropriately.
Over the last eight years, I have made it a priority to perform our job efficiently.  By being a working Clerk, and performing many tasks personally, I have been able to absorb one of three positions in the Finance Department, bringing substantial savings to Union County.  I also believe that as the Clerk to the Board, it is my responsibility to provide the citizens with full transparency and easy access to the actions their local government is taking.  The Clerk's website provides audio recordings, minutes, budgets and audits to the public with just a click of a mouse.  By making this information so readily available, and having better internal controls, all levels of government have better accountability for the tax dollars with which they were entrusted.  By establishing a working relationship with the Board, together we have increased the Fund Balance of the County by 75% from $3.1 million to $5.4 million over the last eight years.  By diligently working to repay debt, we have reduced the County's loans payable from nearly $700,000 in 2012 to less than $40,000 today.  Last year, we paid off two loans early and the only one outstanding is for the grant-matching portion of an ambulance.

During my tenure, the Court system has changed substantially.  I have been blessed with a hardworking staff, and together we have implemented multiple changes mandated by the Florida Supreme Court, including a conversion to an electronic court filing system, reporting requirements and changes regarding public safety and the protection of crime victims' information.  For several years, we have been operating a paperless court file system.  This reduces costs in printing, saved thousands by not having to purchase case file folders, and also provided faster and easier access for attorneys and the public.  The added benefit is that staff time is no longer needed to provide copies and access.  I am operating a court department with two employees less than were employed eight years ago.

I truly enjoy my job, and am thankful to be afforded the opportunity to work in a community that I love, where I was born, grew up and am choosing to raise my three boys: Tanner (14), Judd (11) and Tripp (9).  I believe that I have served Union County well.  The changes that I have implemented in the last eight years are just a start, and I am excited for additional improvements in the years to come as our County grows.  I need your vote to keep moving Union County forward!

Regina Parrish | Union County Clerk of Courts

Let me start off by introducing myself and my family.  My name is Regina Parrish, and I am a candidate for Clerk of Courts, a position which I occupied for 20 years.  Upon leaving the office in 2013, my late husband, Bobby Parrish, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  So, I decided to take a break from public service in order to spend quality time with him.  For several years, we battled his terrible illness together.   I am incredibly grateful for the time we had together before his death.  My past, present and future have always been in God's hands, and it is just as evident today as it was in 2013.

Of all the things I've accomplished in my life, my family is the one of which I am most proud. Prior to his death, Bobby and I were married for 48 years and raised three beautiful children: Brett (Talisha) Parrish, Beth Jarrell and Susan (Matt) Marteeny.  Through our children, we have been blessed with the wonderful gift of seven beautiful grandchildren.  Additionally, I could not let it go without mentioning that I am the daughter of the late Dolly and Guy Harrell. You might remember my mother from her many years at the desk in the local hometown bank.

For 20 years, I served as your Clerk of Courts, running unopposed four consecutive terms.  It was also my honor and distinction to serve as President of the Florida Clerk's Association, an organization which provides guidance and oversight to all 67 Counties in the State through cooperation with the Legislature.   I was a School Board Member for 10 years, which gives me a total of 30 years' experience in local government agencies.  My extensive time in public office has shown me to be a proven leader.

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to serve on many important committees and boards, such as the Guardian Ad Litem Advisory Board.  Other accomplishments include Criminal Justice Instructor, Child Abuse Prevention Specialist with the University of Florida, and a Court Collections Provider.  My commitment to the County's and State's criminal justice system provided me with many opportunities to serve, for which I am most grateful.

As a public servant, I am committed to providing the Citizens with an office which will serve everyone with dignity and respect, where your Clerk will be available to the public at all times.  I am committed to fiscal stability and responsibility.  I vow to provide an office where your tax dollars will be spent wisely, accounting practices which follow all policies and procedures, and complete transparency within the office.  It's incredibly important to me that Citizens receive the highest level of care and attention to their needs

By electing me as your next Clerk of Court, I will provide friendly, qualified and excellent service responsive to the needs of all citizens.  More than anything, I feel the Citizens need to SEE their Clerk, and I promise to be available to each and every person.  An open door policy is paramount to the success of any office which serves the public.

My heart and home is in Union County.  I have a vested interest in its future and a deep commitment to its Citizens.  I have the commitment to serve and the courage to lead.  The foundation of my campaign is in the heart, soul and conscience of every person in the county.  With your help and support, you and I, working together, can build Union County's future together.

I humbly ask for your vote in the upcoming election.
Regina Parrish, Candidate for Clerk of Court
Rebekah Elixson | Union County School Board, District 2

My name is Rebekah Elixson and I am running for Union County School Board, District 2. My husband, Darren, and I met at Union County High School when we were students and have had a home in the district every year since. We have had a child in the Union County School system for 12 consecutive years! As a mother of four, I have a vested interest in the success of our school system. In the fall, our oldest son starts his Senior year at UCHS, we have a son who will start his UCHS career as a Freshman, a daughter who will start 7th grade at LBMS, and a 4th grade Tiger Cub daughter at LBES.

My qualifications will be an asset to the Union County School District:
  • 10 years as a private business owner
  • 5 years Union County Girl Scout leader
  • Girl Scout Community Development Outreach Coordinator NE FL District
  • Boy Scout Assistant Scout Master
  • 6 years Licensed Practical Nurse in an institutional and pediatric setting
  • Treasurer of the VFW Auxiliary POst 10082 in Union County
  • Real Estate investor
  • Council Member of the Raiford Town Council; where I represented the interests of my constituents proposing, passing and ratifying laws and ordinances, managing the budget and planning events such as Back to Raiford Day and the Raiford Breakfast with Santa.
  • Managing the budget and schedules for a busy family of six!

The focus for my term will be to facilitate an open line of communication between parents and school administration. I want to make the Union County School District the best it can be for your children and for mine!
Russell Gordon | Union County School Board, District 2

I am Russell Gordon, and I have had the pleasure of being your Union County School Board Member, District 2 for the past four years. I currently serve the board and community as Vice Chair, for which I was elected in 2019 by my board colleagues. During my tenure on the board, we have worked cohesively to progress the district forward. A few of these accomplishments were raises for bus drivers to help to end the bus driver shortage, adding new health benefits at no additional cost to district employees, the purchase of six new school buses, and implementation of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Safe Schools Act, in which my extensive public safety experience was instrumental. I have also served on the insurance committee in an effort to reduce health care cost to the district and employees.

 
In addition to serving as a board member, I have also donated my time and support to many of the school events and district’s student organizations. I have judged spelling bees and science fairs, sponsored awards for FFA and meals for FBLA at state events, purchased animals at the fair and contributed to add-ons, both with the board and as an individual. The youth of our community are our future, and I have and always will be committed to proving a safe and secure learning environment, full of opportunity, in which they can flourish.

 
I am a United States Marine Corps Veteran and highly decorated law enforcement officer. I served as a sergeant for the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office the past ten years, where I was the field training supervisor, Honor Guard Commander, and Senior Advisor for the Bradford County Explorers, a program for youths interested in law enforcement. In addition to serving as your school board member for District 2, I am currently employed as an investigator for the Office of the Inspector General’s Office in Raiford.

 
I am married to Deborah Gordon, a breast cancer survivor,  teacher, and reading coach at Lake Butler Middle School. She has also volunteered her time for the last 8 years to serve on the Board of Directors for Meridian Behavioral Health as a representative for Union County, for which she is currently board chair. So as you can see, we are truly invested in our community. We moved here, after much research, to send our children to Union County schools. Our children are Union County High School graduates, and we have grandchildren that will soon be attending Lake Butler Elementary School. We are members of Crossroads to Victory Church.
 
As we move forward in these uncertain times, an experienced board is paramount. Our district must have experience and strong leadership as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead. As we look toward our future, post pandemic, with a new superintendent, I hope to have your continued support, and I will continue to work hard on behalf of the students, parents, staff, and faculty of Union County School District.
Becky Raulerson | Union County School Board, District 4

Becky Raulerson currently serves as the Union County School Board member for District 4. She is an educator working for education. In her full-time role, she is a lecturer for the Agricultural Education and Communication Department at the University of Florida where she teaches undergraduate courses and advises and mentors undergraduate students. She was previously a research coordinator for the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UF/IFAS PIE Center) from February 2010 to December 2011. She received a B.S. in Agricultural Communications with a minor in Food and Resource Economics and an M.S. in Agricultural Education, both from the University of Florida. Her background in youth and college agricultural organizations, such as FFA, 4-H, and Florida Blue Key enhanced Raulerson's leadership skills and eventually led her to coordinator positions with UF’s Food and Resource Economics Department and UF’s Agricultural Education and Communication Department. Raulerson built on those skills and held positions with Dow AgroSciences and Novartis Animal Health, where she served as a sales representative for both and managed $1.4 million territories. In 2004, she was recognized as outstanding alumni by the UF Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter.

Raulerson also gained valuable teaching experience as a graduate student while at UF and as an English teacher at Union County High School, where she conducted in-classroom research and was a presenter at the 2009 North Florida Teaching, Inquiry, and Innovation Showcase. Raulerson was voted 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year by her colleagues at Union County High School, and was also recognized as a 2010 National Ag in the Classroom Conference scholarship recipient by the American Farm Bureau Foundation. She has contributed to research published in the Journal of Applied Communications, and she collaborated on a USDA grant project, which received national recognition through published papers and presentations. In addition, her leadership in the 2005 Florida Agriculture and Natural Resources Awareness Initiative project led to the production of multiple materials and resources currently used by Extension faculty and practitioners to disseminate positive information about the economic impact of Florida’s agriculture and natural resources industries. When working for the PIE Center, Raulerson coordinated research projects on public perceptions of agricultural words and messages, developed art exhibits to educate the public about agricultural and natural resources in Florida, and presented research findings and educational content to various groups and organizations around the state.

Raulerson said, “I’ve worked very hard at serving our students, parents, employees and community with passion and transparency. Through a board member’s role of budget and policy, I have provided input and checks and balances. I have also worked hard at communicating with our school community and improving existing communication channels while also striving for innovation. The next four years are expected to bring transition and unique challenges in which the experience of our school board members is going to be essential for navigating successfully. I would like to ask the voters of Union County’s District 4 for their vote on Tuesday, August 18.”

Raulerson was appointed to the Union County School Board as the District 4 representative on June 22, 2011 and finished out the term vacated by the death of Mrs. Sandra Floyd. She was elected back to the office for four more years by her constituents on 8/14/12 and again on 8/30/16.
Raulerson grew up in the small rural town of Bonifay, located in Holmes County in NW Florida. She has two children, both students at Union County High School.
 
“Becky Raulerson has been an effective voice for education in rural counties around the State of Florida. Her leadership has been instrumental in securing "millions" of special funding dollars for small school districts and fighting to protect the rights of citizens at the local level. School board members, including Becky Raulerson, have been instrumental in pushing “common sense” proposals needed for students in small school districts like Union County. Go Becky! Go Tigers!”
~ Chris Doolin, Long-time Legislative Consultant for Small Counties and School Districts.
Sondra Hunt | Union County School Board, District 4

Hi friends! My name is Sondra Andrews Hunt and I am seeking your support for Union County School Board District 4!
I grew up in Lake Butler and attended school in Union County from Pre-K through high school. I am a proud member of the graduating Class of 2004. My husband Jason and I have three beautiful children, Vivian (7), Julia (6) and John Carter (5). We are extremely proud to call Union County our home and we find great joy in making memories here with our children.

I wear many hats in our community, I am a local realtor, a substitute teacher, a worship leader at First Christian of Starke and the lead singer for The Sondra Hunt Band. I frequently volunteer with the Lake Butler Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, I am a member of the Union County Riding Club, and a leader for the Dirty Boots Country Roots 4-H Club. I have worked with the UCHS and LBES talent shows and served in various capacities with the Bradford-Union Strawberry Pageant Organization.

As the daughter of not one, but two educators, I witnessed firsthand what it means to be called to serve in a secondary classroom. My parents poured their hearts and souls into their students, the families of their students, their colleagues, their classrooms and their schools. As a result of their influence I embrace and value a school based support system that builds up students, faculty and staff. I believe as a district we are better when we encourage diversity and inclusion and embrace all stakeholders BECAUSE of their differences. I believe when students, faculty and staff have access to resources the district can and will enjoy tremendous success. I believe to prosper we must continue to be compassionate, empathetic and imaginative.

My vision for our school system is simple, I want to ensure our schools are safe, our teachers and staff are equipped and students have the opportunity to learn, prosper and grow their unique talents and become the best versions of themselves!

Union County is a part of who I am and I hold the morals and values of this community very close to my heart. I thrive on faith, family and hard work. I am committed to diligently working on behalf of our school system with a faithful and servant spirit.

"Thank God for hometowns and all the love that makes them go around." - Hometown by Carrie Underwood
David W. Harris | Superintendent of Union County School District

My name is David W. Harris and I am seeking the office of Union County Superintendent of Schools.  I was born April 10, 1971 to George Wayne and Carol Jean Harris of Raiford. My family has resided in Union County for several generations and I still live less than four miles from where I was raised, where my father was raised and his father before him.  I have been married to my wife, Donna, for 24 years.  She is a teacher at Lake Butler Middle School. Our daughter Ashley is a former Miss Union County High School and 2018 graduate of UCHS.  She is now proudly serving our great nation in the United States Air Force.  Our son, Lake, will be a senior at UCHS this year and proudly wears the purple and gold in three different sports as well as other school activities.  
 
I attended school in Union County my entire life, beginning at Lake Butler Elementary School where Ms. Boykin was my Kindergarten teacher, followed by Ms. Peterson, Mrs. Dukes, Mrs. Seay, and Mrs. Bartlett.  Before entering fifth grade, the middle school suddenly burned down just prior to the start of school.  Subsequently, fifth and sixth grades were housed at the LBMS cafeteria and Lake Butler Community Center.  A brand new school was constructed and I attended it for both seventh and eighth grades.  Also, the first ever Lake Butler Middle School football team was formed and I was fortunate to be named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player during my eighth grade year.  Little did I know how much these events of my childhood would play into my career.  In 1993 I returned to teach and coach at Lake Butler Middle School where I taught 8th grade American History and coached football and basketball.  Additionally,  I along with several other coaches formed the Suwanee Middle Athletic Conference (SMAC) of which our teams still participate.
 
 
During my years at Union County High School I was involved in many activities.  I served as President of the Lake Butler Junior FFA Chapter and later as the Senior Chapter President, was a member of the National Beta Club, Who's Who Among American High School Students, was the Hugh O'Brian Leadership ambassador for Union County and was in the first group ever to be selected in the Top Tigers leadership program.  I also played football on the team that won the most games in over a decade.  I graduated in 1989 in the top ten percent of the class, was voted as Most Dependable and was also named as Florida Farm Bureau's Outstanding Young Farmer and Rancher.
 
 
Upon graduation, I attended Lake City Community College where I graduated in 1991 Phi Theta Kappa and later graduated from the University of Florida, Phi Alpha Theta.  I graduated as a Gator in 1993 with a major in History and a minor in Secondary Education.  For the next five years I taught at LBMS and then transferred to Union County High School where I worked as an Animal Science Teacher and FFA advisor.  
 
 
I was named Teacher of the Year for Union County, was the top Young Agriculture Teacher for Florida and the United States as well as later being named as the Outstanding Agriculture Teacher by the National Association of Agriculture Educators.  I was also a member of a great team of teachers that earned the honor of top program in the nation.  I coached the first ever National Champion team for Lake Butler and Florida's only poultry championship.  I was also part of the second group to ever be recognized for National Teacher Certification from Union County and coached football during the three state championship seasons.
 
 
In 2011 I became the Adult Education Director and Career and Technical Education Coordinator at the Bradford-Union Technical Center (currently North Florida Technical College).  I was soon promoted to the position of Career and Technical Education Director and then as Assistant Superintendent.  My duties as Assistant Superintendent include the safety as well as overall operations of nine schools, over 550 employees and a $34 million dollar budget.  Directly, I supervise the school Principals, the Directors of Information Technology, Maintenance and Facilities, Career and Technical Education, Food and Nutrition Services, and Transportation.
Mike Ripplinger | Superintendent of Union County School District

My name is Mike Ripplinger and I am running for Superintendent of Schools of Union County.  Many of you have come to know me as "Mr. Rip" while I have served the students and parents of Union County for 21 years as a teacher and administrator at Union County High School.  During that time I taught American History, American Government and Economics classes for 11 years and have also served as an administrator for the past 10 years at UCHS.  In July, I will become the Director of Personnel.  This position will provide a greater opportunity to serve the district an apply much of what I have learned throughout my career.

I am running for Superintendent because I believe I can work effectively with school district staff, students, parents, and our community partners to continue the success we have experienced over the past many years.  As Principal of UCHS, I have worked closely with district and school level leadership to develop solutions and plans of action for issues we have encountered.  I have worked with teachers to improve student performance, improve opportunities for student success and preparation for their future, and have worked together with groups to improve and strengthen community relations,  one such example being the district-wide Veterans Day Celebration.  This event has helped bring the recognition our Veterans deserve and provide a time in which all of our students learn the importance of understanding the dedication and service of our active military and Veterans.  I have also worked with many parents who have had concerns to find common ground and solutions to   their concerns.   

All students who come through our school system deserve to have the best opportunity to excel in the classroom and in extracurricular activities.  Students should be encouraged and supported to perform their best by having the best resources and educational opportunities available.  They should have strong athletic programs, clubs, artistic and musical programs, and teams to take part in that will help them learn how to work with others and compete in life.  Like many of you, I understand the value of these things because I have seen them significantly impact the lives of my own children.  

One of the major reasons our students perform so well is due to our faculty and staff.  The men and women who serve in our school district protect, transport, feed, teach, care for, and guide our students each day.  These men and women are some of the finest and most dedicated people you will ever meet and they have a passion for providing the best for our students.  I am committed to working with these great men and women to provide the resources they need to do their job to continue the level of excellence they perform each day.

I believe in the Union County School District and I am determined and dedicated to keeping it strong.  My children are a product of our great school system and like you, I want a strong school system for all of our children.  For 21 years you have trusted me with your children's' safety and education.  Now, I am asking you to trust me as your next Superintendent.  As Superintendent of Schools for Union County, I will work tirelessly to ensure our students and staff have what they need to be successful in a safe environment, as well as maintain the strong partnership our schools share with the community.  I humbly ask for your support and vote for Superintendent of Schools for Union County.   
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