Tuesday’s run-off election saw 1.18 percent of votes separating Helen Warren and Annie Orlando. Warren claimed a victory with 50.59 percent of the 10,723 votes.
In the general election on March 11, five candidates, including Warren and Orlando, ran for the At-large Commission Seat 2. Warren earned 116 more votes than Orlando’s 4,641 votes. A run-off resulted because neither candidate received 50 percent of the votes plus one.
After the polls closed at 7 p.m., the first report showed Orlando leading Warren by 681 votes. That is the last time Orlando held the lead in the race. At about 7:45 p.m., all 35 precincts were reflected in the votes and Warren officially won.
Warren said the difference in results from the general election and the run-off was contacting voters. Her campaign contacted individuals who had voted in the first election as well as those who had not.
“I like to think that I did stay positive with the approach,” Warren said. “I think a lot of people from the beginning said that whoever it was was going to be a leader.”
Orlando made a quick exit from the supervisor of elections office where both candidates awaited results.
“It’s very very close, and I ran a great campaign,” Orlando said. “Kept it to the issues. Didn’t get into her personal life and you know that’s what works unfortunately; it’s very sad.”
Turnout for the run-off election was slightly lower than the general election. The general election drew 15.07 percent of voters, while Tuesday’s run-off election saw 14.86 percent.
Pam Carpenter, the Alachua County supervisor of elections, said results were consistent with past run-offs.
“Normally what we’ve seen historically with the city election is around a 15 percent turnout for the general, and then we usually see about a 16 percent turnout for the run-off,” Carpenter said. “In this instance we’re seeing just about the same turnout, and it may have had something to do with that rain we had this morning.”
There are some provisional ballots that will be trickling into Carpenter’s office, but she said she expects no more than 20 votes – which would not change the outcome of the election.
Carpenter said a recount is necessary when there is 0.5 percent or less separating the two candidates. She said the results are above those margins even with the provisional ballots.
Warren called her victory a “win-win for everybody.” She said she looks forward to being a bridge-builder in the City Commission.
She did not discuss specific plans for the issues facing Gainesville, but she acknowledged there is a lot that needs to be addressed when she takes office in May.
“I’m going to school,” Warren said. “I’ve got a lot of things to learn.”