Elections for the Gainesville City Commission are tomorrow, with District 2, District 3 and one of the At-Large seats at stake.
“We’ve had such a great turnout for early voting and so far, for vote by mail,” said Kim Barton, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections. “We’re really hoping that voters will not let the weather keep them at home tomorrow.”
Early voting numbers from the Supervisor of Elections website show just about the same turnout as 2014, the last time these commission seats were up for grabs. More early votes have been cast this year, but the number of registered voters are also up, according to the Supervisor of Elections. Absentee ballots are down, but Barton expects that number to rise.
Low voter turnout has been an issue for Alachua in the past. City elections don’t draw a huge crowd if it’s not during a presidential election year. The past few off-election years have seen 12 to 15 percent turnout. Barton wants to see this trend change.
“We have been out and very involved in the community,” she said. “We hope for a great turn out, and to exceed previous turnouts for city of Gainesville elections. I just think the candidates are the ones who really bring the people out to vote by their interest in who’s running.”
The candidates for District 2, Sheryl Eddie, Perry Clawson and Harvey Ward Jr., are finishing up their last little bits of campaigning before posting up Tuesday night to await election results.
“I’m feeling very upbeat,” Clawson said. “We’ve been having a lot of fun waving outside the Millhopper Library for early voting; a lot of people giving [a] thumbs up when they’re coming into vote, so we’re feeling very confident about the election.”
Clawson will continue to canvas and encourage voters to vote until the election is over.
“It’s amazing how many people still don’t realize the election is one day away,” he said.
Eddie is also feeling good about the election.
“I really think I’ve gained some momentum,” she said. “My message is getting across. We were the underdog and I think we kind of already shocked everybody.”
Ward said that, although it has been an exciting couple of months running for this commission seat, he is looking forward to having a day off.
“We’ve knocked on lots and lots and lots of doors,” he said. “We made a whole lot of phone calls and probably annoyed people a little too much, but we have to get out there and tell our story.”
Despite this, he said there is a reasonable chance that the election will come down to a run-off.
A run-off election happens when no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, according to the Supervisor of Elections website. It takes place two to three weeks after the general election. There was a run-off every year from 2010 to 2015.
Each candidate will have watch parties and gatherings tomorrow night to await the results. Eddie will be at The Top, Clawson will be at The Warehouse and Ward will be at Blue Gill Quality Foods.
For more information about tomorrow’s elections, check out WUFT’s 2017 Gainesville City Commission Election Guide.