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Manatee County officials solve the migrant crisis; guarantee election integrity in November


On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis again showed his true colors, appointing unqualified political hack James Satcher as our Supervisor of Elections instead of the infinitely more qualified alternative, 11-year SOE Chief of Staff Scott Farrington. Farrington immediately resigned, and Satcher set about hiring another political hack with no experience and a mountain of baggage to replace him.

Satcher became the SOE because the development cabal needed someplace to stick him so that they wouldn’t have him fouling up their plans for the BOCC any longer, as the right-wing zealot would occasionally go rogue and always go stupid. I’m told that Satcher’s chief of staff will be none other than David Ballard, husband of District 2 Commissioner Amanda Ballard.

You might remember his name from the significant press he received in connection with his habit of playing drunken bumper cars throughout Manatee County. The law school graduate was working for a developer lobbyist group when he was arrested twice in just over a month in 2023 for driving drunk and running into things. At that point, it appears he was let go as "political liaison" for the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association and was in dire need of a paycheck.

In the second incident, Ballard hit a county employee, who then filed a lawsuit, which it appears was settled for some amount greater than $50,000 right around the time his wife flipped her vote on a short-lived coup that temporarily saw Vanessa “Vaccinegate” Baugh replace Kevin “the bougainvillea thief” Van Ostenbridge as the board’s chair.

As a result of DeSantis’ deference to the donor class, a Supervisor of Elections office that had once been the envy of just about every county in Florida will see its top two positions staffed by a right-wing MAGA zealot and a hapless spouse who, collectively, have exactly zero experience running elections. There seems little doubt that should Donald Trump need someone to “find the votes” this November, he will discover an eager derriere smoocher in Manatee County. Bob Sweat is surely rolling over in his grave.

On Tuesday, we got a preview of Satcher’s vision for his role during a ridiculous special meeting that our county commission decided was necessary in order for them to bloviate on the migrant crisis and what an unrelated county in an unrelated state needs to do about it. Aside from a bunch of fear-mongering and what would seem like a competition to see who could use the antiquated term “illegal alien” the most, it would seem like the plan is to continue giving piles of money to friends and benefactors.

Satcher said that should a “rogue administration” attempt to allow “illegal aliens” to vote, you could be sure it wouldn't happen on his watch. Then he started talking about “technology needs” that would help ensure “election integrity” in this crucial presidential cycle, indicating that he had already decided what the office needed and would be coming back before the board, hat in hand, in short order.

Ironically, if Republicans actually did care about what they call election integrity, James Satcher wouldn’t have been considered for an SOE appointment any more than he would have been considered for the role of chief brain surgeon at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

Wake up, Manatee County. There are plenty of disinterested rubes who will be driven to the polls by slick mailers telling them how this crew of goldbrickers has been hard at work protecting them from the murderous, sex-crazed hordes of “illegal aliens” pouring into the Sunshine State. Unless they are outnumbered by voters who have actually been paying attention to the flaming pile of dung that is Manatee County politics, the ensuing years will likely seal our fate as just another paradise lost.

Dennis "Mitch" Maley is an editor and columnist for The Bradenton Times and the host of our weekly podcast. With over two decades of experience as a journalist, he has covered Manatee County government since 2010. He is a graduate of Shippensburg University and later served as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Click here for his bio. His 2016 short story collection, Casting Shadows, was recently reissued and is available here. 


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  • Debann

    It's funny you can tell it's election year....Kevin Van ostenbridge stole a plant on private property had to write an apology letter he turned in turned it around and the property owner..State attorney found the apology exceptable, it wasn't...kruse drunk hit a tree Wife was able to take him home..NO CHARGES..Ballard's husband 2 DUI's in a month's time NO time served now he's going to be Satchers right hand man....CORRUPTION. ALL ARE CRIMES. ALL OF THEM ARE WHITE. maybe one shouldn't categorize all nationalities as one...People of ALL COLORS commit crimes.

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • bmcdaniel2

    It is pitiful that the most qualified candidate was not selected for the position. The elected officials have lost the trust of the voters and have now put an unqualified person in charge of elections. This is frightening. I would and will wish that the voters in Manatee Country will elect new representation(commissioners) that will appoint officials with qualifications in the future, which they seem to perform at a level that they show they do not.

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • sandy

    As long as Scott Farrington remains a candidate we still have a chance to vote against Satcher at the primary making him a lame duck. Unfortunately, any change to the Supervisor of Elections won't happen until after the general election in November.

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • rayfusco68


    You are right on! Can you for one minute imagine any private business hiring someone that had no law degree to be their lawyer, no Certified Public Accounting degree to be their Chief Financial Officer, etc. There should be a law requiring high level positions such as the supervisor of election to have specific qualifications to stop this sham wasting public money and endangering the integrity of our election system.

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • pdsinc

    This is a little off from the main theme. People tend to find the term " Illegal immigrant or alien " to be offensive. So why not try foreign CRIMINAL.

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this

  • Charles

    How about "rampant corruption"?

    Wednesday, April 17 Report this