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Nov. 4 – ELECTION WRAP UP: DeLoach outperforms expectations throwing Mayor Edna Jackson into a runoff

Category: 2018 Local and State Elections

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

Nov. 3, 2015 – Savannah businessman and former County Commissioner Eddie DeLoach, president of Tidewater Landscape, successfully forced Edna Jackson into a runoff election for the Mayor of the City of Savannah Tuesday, capturing 9,324 votes or 41.66% of the votes cast for Mayor. 

Mayor Edna Jackson came in first with 9,791 votes or 43.75% of the Mayoral votes cast, far short of the 50% plus one votes she needed to avoid a runoff. 

City Council incumbents Van Johnson, Tony Thomas, John Hall, Carol Bell and Estella Shabazz won re-election in head-to-head races.  Alderman Mary Osborne is in a run-off, and Mary Ellen Sprague was soundly defeated by Julian Miller in District 4. 

Alderman Carol Bell won re-election over newcomer Linda Wilder Bryan, who entered the citywide race in late August, three weeks after the death of her son.  With little formal political structure, and no prior experience, she won over 40% of the city’s vote.

In the Post 2 Alderman-at-Large race, political newcomer Brian Foster led the voting, capturing 37% of a 6-candidate rate.  Alicia Blakely came in second with 26% of the vote, and Joe Steffen was third with about 20%.  In the run-off, Foster is favored according to local political pundits due to Blakely’s political activism as president of the National Action Network founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.  Foster demonstrated strength in a number of predominately black precincts.

The success of the third candidate in the Mayoral race, author and book publisher Murray Silver, who was able to gain more than 12% of the vote, as well, indicates that Mayor Jackson faces an uphill climb in the runoff election on Dec. 1 which could set up a potential domino effect in leadership at many levels of both City and County government that will be felt for years.

The majority of Silver’s supporters are considered some of the most disaffected, unsatisfied of the electorate, supporting the man who stepped up early in the race cycle to advocate for a change in the city’s leadership. Silver’s campaign opened a window to local business and political leaders concerned about crime in the city, and they found a candidate they felt had the experience and the ability to run successfully in DeLoach. Silver’s supporters are expected to move heavily to support DeLoach in the runoff. 

The fourth candidate in the Mayoral race, Realtor Louis Wilson, had 441 votes.

The Turnout

In total, 22,379 voters went to the polls/cards were counted, for a 33.88% turnout of Registered voters, and a 37.56% turnout of “Active Voters.” 

The City of Savannah has 66,063 Registered Voters, but only 59,579 of those voters have been “Active” in the last two to three voting cycles.  After a certain level of inactive elections, the Board of Registrars purges their lists.  In Chatham County, there was a large voter registration drive for the President Obama’s first election in 2008.

The highest voter turnout percentage was in District 4, with 46.1% of “Active” voters casted a ballot, up from 39.2% in the 2011 Municipal races.  The lowest turnouts were in District 1 and 5, with 30.8% and 32.0% respectively of, both with heavy African American populations and only two candidates in those Aldermanic races.

 

Comparisons to the City’s last municipal elections in 2011 by District are difficult in many cases, as the district lines were redrawn after the last U.S. Census which significantly affected the maps of Districts 1, 2 and 3.  

Here's a summary of turnout by District of "Active Voters:"

District 1  30.08%

District 2  38.78%

District 3  36.15%

District 4  46.09%

District 5  32.03%

District 6  39.74%

The District Races

In the District races, Mayor ProTem Van Johnson coasted to an easy victory in District 1 with 63.21% of the cards counted to Bernetta Lanier’s 33.27% of voters. In all, 97 voters did not make a selection in that race. (See chart) In 2011, only 27.7% of active voters went to the polls. Johnson was the city’s highest percentage winner of the incumbents on the City Council who won re-election.  

There will be a run-off in District 2 between newcomer Bill Durrence, a member of the Board of the Downtown Neighborhood Assn. and resident of the Historic District, who led the voting with 1,609 votes to Alderman Mary Osborne’s 1,059, a resident of Baldwin Park.  Coming in third was newcomer Detric Leggett, active with the Water’s Avenue Businessmen’s Assn. and the Bull Horn Crew that are working to stop crime and reduce retribution killings among the City’s young people In an interview Tuesday night, Leggett said that he would endorse Durrence in the runoff “100%, and I will work closely with him on our issues in the 2nd District.” 

In District 3, Alderman John Hall won re-election in a head-to-head battle with newcomer Kim Dulek who got into the race initially due to crime on Savannah’s Eastside.  She lost by only 300 votes, and there was a 36.15% turnout in District 3, an improvement over 2011.  Once again, the Bible Baptist precinct contributed heavily to Hall’s victory.  In 2011, he narrowly beat Alderman Larry Stuber.

But it was the District 4th race that caught everyone’s attention as the results came in Tuesday night, with newcomer Julian Miller soundly defeating Alderman Mary Ellen Sprague, with 3,478 votes to Sprague’s 1,410 or 69.06 percent. It was the largest percentage win by any candidate in all races, and the race pulled out 46.09% of the district’s active voters.

In District 5, Alderman Estella Shabazz narrowing defeated newcomer Shaundra McKeithen, besting her by only 106 votes.  133 voters at the District 5 polls did not cast a ballot in that race. 

With no campaign consultant, and limited fundraising structure, McKeithen surprised many familiar with Savannah’s Westside politics.  In interviews Tuesday evening, she said that she is considering running for County Commissioner next November, challenging Yusef Shabazz, encouraged by the support of the voters and her contributors.  

In District 6, Alderman Tony Thomas carried 58.77% of the vote, easily winning all seven of his voting precincts, and will begin his 4th term in office. He is currently Chairman of the City Council.

“With three challengers coming at me, two of whom ran dirty campaigns, I am thrilled. It’s a landslide.” said Thomas.

 

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