Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday appointed experienced elections administrator Julie Marcus as the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of longtime supervisor Deborah Clark.
Marcus, 43, has worked for the Pinellas elections office for 17 years and has been the chief deputy to the supervisor of elections since 2012.
She officially steps into the top role as the county and state gear up for August’s primary election and November general election under the looming threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pinellas County is often seen as a swing county; its voters narrowly chose Republican Donald Trump for president in 2016, and opted for President Barack Obama in the 2012. Voter turnout could be a major factor in determining whether the county turns red or blue in the likely contentious 2020 presidential contest.
At the helm of the county’s elections office, Marcus will make decisions that could play a significant role in that turnout.
Marcus said Tuesday that her office is encouraging people more than ever amid the pandemic to vote by mail this election.
“Our message this fall is to stay safe, vote by mail. Vote in the safety and comfort of your home,” she said.
Marcus said she was honored and humbled by the governor’s appointment and said it’s strange to hear herself be referred to as “supervisor” after having spent so many years working under Clark.
“I’m eager to keep Pinellas County on track moving forward into the fall elections, moving forward with a great team,” she said. She noted that she’s administered more than 300 elections in her time with the office.
Clark, 71, had served as the elections supervisor for nearly 20 years, having initially been appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2000. She had worked in the elections supervisor office for a total of 42 years.
Clark in February had announced she would retire at the end of March and had recommended Marcus as her successor.
Because Clark retired less than two years before the end of her term, Jan. 5, 2021, there will be no special election. The governor’s appointment will stand until voters choose a supervisor of elections during the November general election.
Marcus, a registered Republican, said she plans to officially announce her candidacy on Wednesday.
Four other candidates have already announced their intentions, and a fifth person who had announced her candidacy has since withdrawn.
The announced candidates are: Audra Bonneau, a registered Republican, and Dan Helm, Mike McGraw and Leonard Schmiege, who are registered Democrats.
Marcus will immediately see a bump in her salary, equivalent to more than $163,000 a year.
Marcus earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Florida.
Prior to coming to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office, Marcus worked as a senior executive secretary with the Florida House of Representatives, according to a bio provided by the supervisor’s office.
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