Results were mixed for Gainesville City Commission candidates on Tuesday night. With a little less than 15 percent of the eligible voting population casting ballots, incumbent Todd Chase claimed District 2, Craig Carter won District 3 and At-large Commission Seat 2 will be decided in a run-off election.
“It’s candidates and issues that drive people to the polls,” said Pam Carpenter, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections. “So it would seem that we have a pretty consistent group of voters and once again that 15 percent has turned out to vote.”
Annie Orlando will face Helen Warren in a run-off election on Tuesday April 8 for At-large Commission Seat 2. Neither candidate received 50 percent of the votes plus one. Warren received 45.14 percent of votes while Orlando received 44.05 percent.
Both candidates said they expected a run-off. Warren said she’s ready for the next three weeks of campaigning.
“I want to maintain a positive vision for where this city can go,” Warren said. “I feel that if there’s bridges that can be built, and I want to be able to build the bridge that’s strongest on both sides.”
Orlando saw the run-off as an opportunity to focus in on specifics.
“Now that I’m running against one person, I think that makes it a little bit easier to focus on the issues that we need to deal with,” Orlando said.
Orlando singled out Gainesville Regional Utilities as an issue she would like to focus on moving forward. She highlighted “getting the management over there back under control, getting it back on sound footing financially and start making good decisions again.”
Alachua County’s run-off protocol will be implemented in the coming days, Carpenter said.
“Once we finish with this election, the canvasing board will be meeting on Thursday to canvas the returns from the polling places and, of course, there will be some change in the results but not major change, I wouldn’t anticipate,” Carpenter said. “Then they’ll certify the election, and once that’s over, then we’ll do the post-election manual equipment audit, and then we’ll start programing the ballots for the run-off.”
Incumbent Susan Bottcher lost the seat for District 3 to Craig Carter by 184 votes.
“Because there are so many people who are angry about GRU and their bills that they feel that they needed to punish me for that, and perhaps that’s what this is about,” Bottcher said after she called Carter to congratulate him on the win.
“When the reality is far more complex than that. And I believe Mr. Carter, once he gets into office, he’s going to learn that things are far more complex than what he thought.”
Carter was optimistic at the results party at his home.
“I’m very excited and extremely humbled,” Carter said. “The voters have spoken, and they’re trusting me with District 3, which is amazing without a doubt.”
Todd Chase had an easier time and won the seat in District 2 with 56.95 percent of the votes.
“(The result) tells me that I’m doing something right for the people in District 2, and I’m excited about that,” Chase said at his Beef ‘O’Brady’s results party.
“We have a plan for the future, but I think that the commission got off track a little bit with their vision and dream of a future that’s too far out while we forgot about the people struggling today,” Chase said.
Chase explained he believes the commission focused too much on future ideas rather than making the necessary, incremental changes the city needs now. He hopes to “make Gainesville a better Gainesville.”
Katie Campbell, Erica A. Hernandez, Haley Stracher and Cassandra Vangellow contributed reporting.