Update 11:21 p.m.: Defeated Gainesville mayoral and city commissioner for district 4 candidates have commented on Tuesday night’s election results.
Mayoral candidate Pete Johnson in an interview offered his congratulations to the two candidates, incumbent Craig Lowe and former City Commissioner Ed Braddy, who compete in the April 16 runoff election.
However, Johnson said he was disappointed his positive campaigning in his first and final run for office didn’t convince more voters.
He called his effort worthwhile for the lessons he learned and friends he made on the trail.
“I can feel good about my campaign and offering the voters a different option,” he said.
He criticized Lowe and Braddy for running polarizing campaigns and said it looks like politics as usual for the next three years.
While not explicitly endorsing either runoff candidate, Johnson said the mayor didn’t recognize some of the major citywide issues his opponents agreed on.
Johnson came in fourth with 783 votes, 6.49 percent of the vote.
In an interview, mayoral candidate Mark Venzke said the results disappointed him.
While he said he would’ve like to see Johnson in the runoff, he endorsed Braddy for mayor.
Venzke said despite the so-called “sharp vitriol” on Braddy’s radio show, the candidate has “mellowed out” over the years and softened his stances on regulation and the environment.
Venzke, who ran in the previous mayoral election, said he supported Alfredo Espinosa‘s district 4 city commissioner campaign because winner Randy Wells didn’t understand the threat of the the biomass plant contract.
Wells won with 53.63 percent of the vote, 1,115 votes. Espinosa finished second with 26.21 percent of the vote, 545 votes.
Venzke said he wished he’d made a stronger impression on voters earlier and had more help, but he’s learned lessons for his next go at public office.
He said he may have his eye on Susan Baird’s Alachua County commissioner seat.
“I feel the calling of public service,” he said. “Though it is exhaustive and demanding, I expect I’ll continue to be a voice on public issues here in Gainesville.”
Venzke placed fifth with 128 votes, 1.06 percent of the vote.
Both men said they will spend the rest of their night sleeping after a draining campaign before going back to their regular lives.
Commissioner candidate William Edward “Mac” McEachern said in an email the election showed a respect for Gainesville residents.
He credited Braddy’s success to such factors as public objection to the biomass plant contract and the mayor’s support for the defeated amendment.
McEachern, a former Gainesville mayor and city commissioner, was against the amendment, which requires city elections every other year in odd-numbered years and lengthen mayors and city commissioners’ terms to four years from three.
“This has been a good campaign,” he wrote.
He placed last in the race for district 4, which stretches from Waldo Road and Northeast 16th Avenue to just beyond Southwest 34th Street and Archer Road.
He earned 20.15 percent of the vote, 419 votes.
Braddy’s comments can be seen below.
Lowe, mayoral candidate Scherwin Henry, Wells and Espinosa did not return phone calls and emails before publication.
— Wade Millward
Update 10:01 p.m.: Gainesville Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter has spoken on the election results.
She said in an interview the 14.29 percent turnout is about the same as the previous Gainesville election. However, there are more registered voters this time.
Carpenter expected a higher turnout and interest in this year’s election for two reasons, she said.
First, the election attracted a large array of candidates. Six men ran for mayor race and three for city commissioner of district 4.
Second, the ballot included an amendment, which requires city elections every other year in odd-numbered years and lengthen mayors and city commissioners’ terms to four years from three.
The amendment was defeated by 1,452 votes. Of the 11,424 total votes, 56.35 percent of voters said no to the amendment.
The city now looks to the mayor’s runoff race between Ed Braddy and Craig Lowe on April 16.
— Wade Millward
In an interview, former City Commissioner Braddy said his campaign of about 30 available volunteers has run a good race with a good message.
He said he likes his chances despite his runoff opponent, Mayor Craig Lowe, having the advantage of already being in office. Braddy hopes his defeated opponents’ voters come to support him in April’s runoff.
Tonight, the candidate plans to celebrate at the Gator City sports grill.
“We feel pretty good. We’re happy to be in the runoff,” he said. “We feel we have a very popular message.”
— Wade Millward
Update: 7:58 p.m.: All 35 precincts have reported. Mayoral candidate Ed Braddy has a slight lead over incumbent Craig Lowe. Both men will face off again at the City of Gainesville run-off election slated for April 16.
District 4 incumbent Randy Wells has captured 53.63 percent of the vote.
The charter amendment received 56.35 percent of votes not in favor of adopting the changes.
Polls closed at 7 p.m. and the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections website has results updating as they come in.
As of 7:40 p.m., 33 of 35 precincts have reported, with no clear majority for any of the mayoral candidates. District 4 incumbent Randy Wells has captured 56 percent of the early vote.