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A NEW MAYOR for City of Savannah: Eddie DeLoach Upsets Mayor Edna Jackson; Foster Bests Blakely and Durrence Achieves Big Win over Osborne

Category: 2018 Local and State Elections

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

December 2, 2015 – Amidst hundreds of supporters chanting “Eddie, Eddie!,” Savannah businessman Eddie DeLoach celebrated an upset victory over the City of Savannah’s incumbent Mayor Edna Branch Jackson in Tuesday night’s runoff, seeking her second term at the helm and her fourth term on the City Council.

Savannah banker Brian Foster defeated black activist Alicia Blakely, and professional photographer Bill Durrence easily defeated incumbent Alderman Mary Osborne to win the District 2 runoff.

DeLoach garnered 53.02% of the 23,507 votes cast in the Mayoral race, a turnout that reflected more than a 5% increase over the November 3 general election versus a normal decline in the number of voters returning to the polls for a runoff.

Mayor Jackson had been on the City Council for 12 years, and was in line to be the president of the Georgia Municipal Association starting in July; she is currently the Vice President. 

Many at DeLoach’s election night watch party at SoHo Café said that they believed that a number of black voters rejected the interjection of racial overtones in Jackson’s campaign literature and ads that the Jackson campaign ran. But the final numbers appear to show that Jackson’s runoff campaign was actually effective in bringing out additional black voters, in particular over her Nov. 3rd result.  

And, DeLoach’s total vote count of 12,464 is almost mathematically, exactly equal to the total of his vote on Nov. 3, plus Murray Silver’s 2,676 supporters and Louis Wilson’s 414 votes in that contest. Wilson endorsed DeLoach during the three-week runoff campaign, and joined him at the election night watch party. Silver neglected to endorse, but it appears his supporters went with DeLoach.

By contract, Mayor Jackson grew her vote 12.79%, from 9,791 on Nov. 3 to 11,043 in the runoff, aided by what appears to be a heavy use of Absentee ballots.  There were 901 total Absentee ballots submitted in personal, or sent in by mail, up from 865 in the Nov. 3 race. (See Battleground analysis.)   As high as 25% to 30% of her votes at some of the city’s key polling locations came from Absentee ballots.

Another factor appears to be DeLoach’s success in attracting approximate 15% - 18% of the City’s black vote on Nov. 3, and then holding on to their support and getting them back to the polls for Tuesday’s runoff.

                                                          NOV. 3                DEC. 1             Percent of Change

TOTAL MAYORAL VOTES               22,250                  23,507                  5.6% Increase

EDDIE DELOACH                                9,324                 12,464              33.68% increase

EDNA JACKSON                                  9,791                  11,043             12.79% increase

In his remarks to supporters, DeLoach began by offering a prayer led by Pastor Morris Brown of Metro Savannah Baptist Church on Savannah’s Eastside, and then went on to say, “My head … I am pointed in the right direction, and I’m going to make a difference in this city.” `

He urged all citizens “to be calm. Everything is going to be alright,” referring to the racial tension that marred the last month of the race, particularly during the three weeks leading up to today’s runoff election.  (See video of his speech.)

And he spent time talking about the contributions of Mayor Jackson. “I want everybody to realize that I am the Mayor-Elect now, but we have a Mayor and this lady has worked herself to death to do this job, and try to do a job that she thought was the proper job to do. And, I don’t want anybody who is running for office, and anybody who is in office, to ever forget that each one of us is human, but we make mistakes and move forward.  We are all hear together for the same thing:  we want a better Savannah.”

Late Tuesday night, Mayor Jackson posted on her Facebook page, “Congratulations to Eddie and his team. I hope they will not forget about the young people. It is about our young people. With that I have to say thank you. Tony, Estella and Van will have to carry the load and continue the good work. This is my last campaign, but I will not stop working for the people. God continue to bless each of you.”

In the other races of the night, Bill Durrence received 61,64% of the vote in the District 2 runoff, easily defeating Mary Osborne who was seeking her fourth term on the City Council.  The results appeared to indicate that a high percentage of the vote that black candidate Detrict Leggett received on Nov. 3 moved to Durrence in a District that has a majority of black registered voters.  Leggett endorsed Durrence on election night on Nov. 3, and campaigned for him across the District in November.  

Thanking supporters at an election night party at Cha Bella restaurant, Durrence said that he never expected this, and added, “Many people disappear after an election, but you’ll probably get tired of me calling on you,” to help.

He said that Leggett “was terrific in helping with the runoff. Early on, we agreed on what we wanted to do, on where we wanted to go. He was absolutely true to his word.”

Brian Foster watched the results with supporters at the Desoto Hilton, and then came over to join the DeLoach team, bringing together all of the newly elected members of the City Council – part of a new majority that will lead the city.  He received almost 53% of the votes cast – though there were 1,000 fewer votes cast in his and Alicia Blakely’s runoff contest than the Mayoral race. 

Foster said he was very grateful for the voter’s support, and acknowledged that his race closer than many expected.

Thoughts by City Leaders on the Election Night Results

One of the many elected officials at DeLoach’s party was County Commissioner Tony Center. Commenting on the runoff results in all three races, he said, “I think the voters across the board were unhappy that race was an issue, and it speaks it loudly for the health of democracy because people expressed their opinion at the polls.”

“I think that those who voted really had an appetite for change,” said Pastor G. Lind Taylor, who was a candidate in the Post 2 Alderman-at-Large race on Nov. 3. “I congratulate Brian Foster for his character, for not fighting with negative arrows and spears during the campaign. He showed real character during the campaign, and I’m proud that I endorsed him in the runoff. And, the same with Eddie.  I met him early on. Eddie puts his money where his mouth is. He believes in giving others an opportunity, in giving people a chance.”

New Alderman-Elect in District 4, Julian Miller, also celebrated with the DeLoach campaign team, and said that the vote showed that voters rejected attempts to interject racism in the runoff.

Black political leader Clinton Young came to celebrate with Eddie DeLoach, and said that he recognized that many voters were ready for change.  He also said that he was proud to have endorsed Brian Foster who he said “brings important business knowledge to the table.” 

Other black officials came by the DeLoach party to congratulate the new Mayor-Elect including Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson, State Senator Lester Jackson and State Rep. Jesse Petrea.

Mayoral Race Analysis

While the City has 52 polling locations, more than 50% of the vote in the race between DeLoach and Jackson was cast at just 16 locations - the Battleground precincts.

The chart below compares their vote at each location on Nov. 3, versus Tuesday night. Note the large increase in the number of voters that went to the polls at First Presbyterian Church which benefitted the DeLoach, Foster and Durrence campaigns. 

Also note the large number of Edna Jackson's votes that came in on Absentee ballots at some of the locations.

 

 

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