Tie! Hardee County Commission election goes to hand-count after both candidates receive 1,531 votes

Colon Lambert and Sandy Meeks
Commissioner Colon Lambert and Sandy Meeks await hand recount.

The Hardee County Commission Republican primary election for District 1 is going into a hand-count of overvotes and undervotes after a machine count of ballots ended in a tie.

The contest is between incumbent Commission Chair Colon Lambert and former County Commission Office Manager Sandy Meeks.

The pair and a third party Republican candidate waged the closest of elections last week. Final count after the machine count: Lambert, 1,531 votes; Meeks, 1,531 votes; and Donald Samuels, 1,092 votes.

Samuels is out.

There are no other candidates, so this was an open primary election. Winner take all.

The fate of Lambert and Meeks and the District 1 seat in Hardee County rests on whether there are any ah-ha moments in the canvassing board’s examinations of 80-some ballots early Monday morning.

Almost all of the ballots to be examined are undervotes, meaning someone voted for the top race or two and then skipped the county commission race. Or at least that’s what the machine reads of the ballots indicated.

“And then if it comes up a tie again, which, I don’t know of any reason it wouldn’t be a tie again, then we’ll have a game of chance. That’s what the statute provides,” Lambert said.

A coin flip. A draw of straws. Perhaps some other method. It hasn’t been decided yet.

This was a largely cordial contest between two candidates. Lambert and Meeks know each other well. They’ve worked together for the past eight years, through Lambert’s first two terms, and have known each other much longer.

Lambert, a real estate broker in Wauchula, ran on his experience and his commitment and record to always vote his conscience. Meeks, who was County Commission office manager for 15 years and also served as board secretary until recently when she left, pledged she wants to work more closely with people. That’s about as far a split as occurred among the issues, both said Sunday.

“Very friendly. … We all ran really good campaigns. Nothing nasty or negative or anything,” Meeks said.

“It’s a small town. We try to keep it amicable because when the election is over we still have to see each other and get along,” Lambert said.

The canvassing board hand recount is set for 8:30 a.m.

Both Meeks and Lambert pledged no hard feelings, however the election ends.

“I’m just really excited. This has been a great process and everyone has worked so hard and has been so nice. And I truly believe in the process,” Meeks said. “And I can’t wait to see what happens.”

No one is aware of anything like this ever happening before in Hardee County.

“It’s certainly frustrating to a lot of people, for whichever side you’re for,” Lambert said. “However, as crazy as it sounds, I think it’s still the best system on the planet. If we respect the system then we move forward with whatever they’ve laid out for us. That’s what I intend to do.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

One comment

  • Concerned Citizen

    August 24, 2020 at 12:27 am

    I love how Sandy Meeks states that she stepped down to run for this office. She was fired. Her whole reason for running for commissioner is that she wants to have revenge on the County Manager for doing his job. Hardee County is a tiny place with tiny-minded people. It would be awesome if she truly cared for the people, but she is after her own agenda. This is the same woman who fielded a call a year or two ago from a terrified resident, who happened to be calling in to report Meeks`s husband, a county animal control officer. Scott Meeks was yelling at this resident, from his county work vehicle, while parked on her yard. He became enraged and cut donuts in her lawn, as well as running over her decorative trees. As far as I know the woman took pictures of him doing this, but was terrified. She subsequently called to report him, but Sandy Meeks took the call. Well, it being Hardee County, she convinced the lady to accept a half-cocked letter of apology (which I’m sure Sandy typed on the County’s dime) and allow Sandy to replant the trees and rake the yard. Her husband never faced any repercussions and the County mechanics even had to repair the work vehicle. I’m sure if one were to file a FOIA request on Scott Meeks, this would be NO WHERE in his records. I’m tempted to do this myself, but I live here and I’m afraid he would find a way to have me arrested. He has done this to others that he and Sandy deem troublesome. She is NOT what Hardee County needs. She simply wants the office for personal vengeance and gain. I don’t personally know any of the people involved, I’m just tired of the Good Ol` Boy Political Machine.

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