Gainesville City Commission candidates Gigi Simmons and Charles Goston will go head-to-head in a runoff for the District 1 seat up for grabs.
Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday night’s election, the two candidates with the most votes — Simmons and Goston — will compete in a runoff to be held May 1. While these results are still unofficial, TJ Pyche from the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office is confident there will be a runoff.
Tyra Edwards, who also ran in the District 1 race, did not qualify for the runoff after receiving about 6 percent of the votes, according to unofficial election results from the Supervisor of Elections office.
Simmons received about 49 percent of the votes in the race, and Goston, the seat’s incumbent, received 45 percent. According to the unofficial results, the margin between them was less than 100 votes.
After it seemed all voting precincts had reported and no candidate had come out on top, Goston pledged to redouble his efforts in preparation for the runoff.
“I don’t take prisoners, and I don’t take them because they don’t believe in justice, in equality, equal access,” Goston said to a group of supporters gathered around him.
“They don’t believe in having a society where everybody has a shot. They don’t want that, and that’s where I was going,” he said.
Simmons was gratified that she led at the end of the night, if only slightly.
“We’re going to just keep working harder,” she said. “All the hard work we put into it, we see the results.”
Pyche said those who may have been ineligible to vote in Tuesday’s election could become eligible in time for the runoff.
He said Florida law requires in order for somebody to vote in an election, they must be registered in their district at least 29 days in advance of the election. The runoff resets the clock, he said, meaning District 1 residents can register to vote before April 2nd and cast a ballot in the upcoming runoff.
“We encourage people to go out and vote,” Pyche said. “In local elections, people are making decisions on candidates that directly impact their everyday lives. We want to make sure everyone is aware of the May 1st runoff and that folks are ready to vote.”
On May 1, all nine of the District 1 voting precincts will be open once again for voters to choose between the two candidates.
The last time that Gainesville had a runoff was three years ago when a runoff was needed for both the At-Large 1 and District 1 races, Pyche said. This was the year that Goston originally won his commission seat, which means May 1 will be his second runoff.
The results of the election will be finalized on Thursday once the Alachua County Canvasing Board meets on the matter.