32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Who did – and didn’t – get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot


Indian River County Commission Chairwoman Susan Adams topped the list of candidates who failed to qualify for the ballot in the upcoming elections by collecting signatures from 1 percent of the county’s voters.

Instead, Adams and three other active candidates for countywide office must pay a fee to the Supervisor of Elections by June 12 to get on the ballot for the Aug. 18 primary election or the Nov. 3 general election.

The COVID-19-triggered shutdown of the state on March 17 greatly increased the challenge of convincing 1,134 registered voters to sign their ballot petitions by the May 11 deadline.

Candidates were unable to engage in the time-honored practice of collecting signatures from voters in person at large events, near public buildings, or by going door-to-door.

Democratic Sheriff’s candidate Deborah Cooney said the pandemic stopped her petitioning efforts 189 signatures short of the requirement.

“Meetings have been canceled,” Cooney said. “Door-to-door canvassing is not feasible because people are afraid of the virus.”

Qualifying for the ballot via the petition method shows a degree of political strength and a tangible level of support because it requires so much time and effort, several politicians said.

Candidates typically organize a core group of supporters to help solicit hundreds of voters to sign their petitions.

The petition method also saves the candidate thousands in filing fees that must be paid if they do not get the required signatures: That’s $3,860 for county commissioner candidates, $7,787 for constitutional officer candidates and $8,352 for sheriff candidates.

Adams, who so far remains unopposed in her quest for a second four-year term in District 1, did not respond to emails and telephone messages regarding the petitioning process.

Two other active candidates missed the noon, May 11 deadline to submit 1,134 petitions to the elections office:  Laura Moss, the Vero Beach councilwoman running for County Commission in District 5; and former Indian River Shores Mayor Brian Barefoot, the lone School Board candidate so far in District 5.

Moss did not respond to emails and phone messages asking her about her candidacy, but Barefoot said he planned to pay the qualifying fee of $1,424 – 4 percent of the non-partisan position’s salary.

The 15 other active candidates for countywide office qualified for the ballot by completing the petition process, records show.

That included six incumbents and all four Republican candidates running to replace retiring Sheriff Deryl Loar.

While 10 candidates had collected enough signatures last year before the pandemic began, five others seeking countywide office managed to complete the petitioning process in March, April or May.

The final five included all four candidates so far in District 3 races where County Commissioner Tim Zorc faces a Republican primary challenge from retired Fire Rescue Capt. Joe Earman, and School Board member Laura Zorc faces retired school Principal Peggy Jones in a non-partisan race.

“Right when we started hearing some inkling about this, my husband and I just jumped on it,” Jones said about their petitioning.

“We were done by early March so we got it finished before it really started with restrictions.”

By April 3, Secretary of State Laurel Lee decided to allow petitions to be submitted electronically, helping some candidates complete the process.

Laura Zorc, who qualified May 1 via the petition method, said her strategy initially was to collect signatures during public events in March and April. But she accelerated her efforts as the pandemic worsened.

“I just couldn’t relax knowing I didn’t meet that first goal,” Laura Zorc said. “So I just really got out there on the phone, through social media and I had a lot of supporters that helped me collect the petitions.

“For someone to sign your petition, you really have to have their trust because there is personal information on there,” she said. “I think it shows I have a lot of grassroots support that is willing to help.”

The required petition information includes a voter’s name, address and birth date, or voter registration number.

In another big race, three of the four Republican candidates for sheriff said they had robust petition operations that showed the strength of their campaigns.

“The petition method is where grassroots begins,” said Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry, who qualified on June 4, 2019.

“Qualifying by petition places a candidate in direct contact with voters. It’s a tremendous opportunity to understand the issues, formulate positions and develop strategies, all of which make one a stronger candidate.”

Sheriff’s Major Eric Flowers, who is seeking the top job, said he collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot shortly after his campaign kickoff on March 4, 2019.

“I believe qualifying by petition in just three weeks shows the strength of our support,” Flowers said.

Retired Sheriff’s Capt. Chuck Kirby, who qualified for the sheriff’s race on Dec. 6, 2019, said the feat “demonstrates at least a minimal grassroots level of support not required by solely paying the fee.”

A majority of Indian River County candidates agreed that collecting hundreds of signatures from registered voters boosts their campaign and shows they’re serious.

“By going out and soliciting petitions, it creates publicity and buzz for your campaign,” said Indian River Shores Vice Mayor Bob Auwaerter, a Republican candidate for County Commission in District 5.

“You have an opportunity to meet with potential voters and hear their concerns,” Auwaerter said. “You always have plenty of things to spend money on during a campaign, so why waste it paying the filing fee?”

Steve Boyle, another District 5 commission candidate who qualified by petitioning, agreed petitioning demonstrates a candidate’s viability.

“If done in person, I think it shows that people are willing to back the candidate,” said Boyle, a barrier island real estate appraiser and consultant. “It shows a willingness to work harder.”

The only incumbent countywide office-holder who has yet to file a declaration of candidacy is District 5 School Board member Tiffany Justice.

Justice said last week she hasn’t yet decided whether to seek a second four-year term by paying the $1,424 fee.

Noon, June 12 is the deadline for candidates for countywide office to qualify for the ballot by paying a percentage of the position’s salary.

The two candidates in the Republican primary for Tax Collector – incumbent Carole Jean Jordan and her former assistant, Brenda Bradley – also qualified by petition.

Bradley qualified on July 29, 2019, and Jordan qualified on April 13, during the shutdown.

Constitutional officers who qualified via the petitioning method and are so far running unopposed include Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Jeffrey Smith, Property Appraiser Wesley Davis and Supervisor of Elections Leslie Swan.