Bartow, FL- Polk County is considered to be part of the Tampa Bay area. It is centered between Tampa and Orlando. The county has a history that revolves around citrus and the phosphate industry, as well as dairy and beef cattle. The largest city in Polk County is Lakeland, which is the home of Publix Supermarkets but Bartow is the County Seat. The political scene would be deemed “boring” by some standards but the breakdown of voters and elected officials party affiliations may not be what many expect.
According to the Polk County Supervisor of Elections Office data, as of August 1, 2013 the voter breakdown was listed as;
Total Registered Voters: 356,777
Total Registered Democrats: 140,843 (39.47%)
Total Registered Republicans: 130,916 (36.69%)
Total Registered “Other”: 11,245 (3.15%)
Total Registered “Unknown”: 73,773 (20.67%)
The racial breakdown of registered voters according to the same data was listed as;
Total Registered White Voters: 253,935 (71.17%)
Total Registered Black Voters: 46,872 (13.13%)
Total Registered Hispanic Voters: 36,427 (10.21%)
Total Registered “Other” Voters: 7,514 (2.10%)
Total Registered “Unknown” Voters: 12,029 (3.37%)
The gender breakdown of registered voters according to 08/01/13 data:
Total Registered Male Voters: 157,705 (44.2%)
Total Registered Female Voters: 190,451 (53.3%)
Total Registered “Unknown” Voters: 8,621 (2.41%)
According to the most recent US Census Data, the Polk County area’s demographic breakdown was:
80% of the population is white
15.6% of the population is black or African-American
18.6% of the population is Hispanic
PUBLIC OFFICIAL PARTY AFFILIATION BREAKDOWN
The Polk County Commission is made up of 5 members and serve a term of 4 years and are term limited out after 2 terms, all 5 current commissioners are listed as Republican in campaign results from their most recent elections. The current commissioners are;
County Commissioner District 1 George Lindsey
County Commissioner District 2 Melony Bell
County Commissioner District 3 Ed Smith
County Commissioner District 4 Todd Dantzler
County Commissioner District 5 John Hall
The election of the county commissioners is an open ballot, meaning you do not have to live in the district the commissioner represents to vote for your candidate.
The incumbent Sheriff, Grady Judd, is a Republican. As in most counties, the Supervisor of Elections Office is a non-partisan race. The incumbent in that office, Lori Edwards, ran for a Senate seat as a Democrat however she was unsuccessful and was re-elected as Supervisor of Elections. Due to the Senate campaign, her political affiliation became public knowledge. The Office of Tax Collector is also a non-partisan office and the incumbent in that office, Joe G. Tedder, was an elected member of the Florida House in the 1990’s. According to the Florida House website, Mr. Tedder served as a Democrat.
All school board positions are non-partisan, as are the Clerk of Courts, Stacy Butterfield and Property Appraiser, Marsha Faux.
This year will be a slow year in Polk County voting. There are no major offices that are up for re-election; however, 2014 is shaping up to be a very active year for county offices. A total of 4 school board positions and 2 county commissioner seats will be up for challengers in 2014.