First-time candidate Gigi Simmons beat incumbent Charles Goston by over 400 votes in the May 1 runoff for the District 1 Gainesville City Commission seat.
Simmons received 1,245 votes compared to Goston’s 830, according to the unofficial election results from the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office. Simmons finished with 60 percent of the total votes cast.
Simmons’s vote count in the runoff was 145 votes higher than the March 2o general election . Goston received 186 fewer votes than he did in the general election, according the unofficial results.
Simmons and her crowd of supporters erupted into cheers as the winning results poured in at the Cyprus & Grove Brewing Company. An emotional Simmons stepped to the front of the room to address her supporters:
“I am very confident that great things are going to happen in District 1. It’s our time,” she said. “District 1, you deserved better, and we’re going to give it 150 percent.”
Simmons said her first priority as city commissioner will be to improve public transportation in Gainesville, particularly the bus system. She said she used to take the bus with her children 20 years ago, and in all that time, the system has not improved.
“We really need to talk about and focus on how can we have reliable, consistent transportation for the people that need it the most,” she said. “It’s been too long.”
Simmons and her supporters were particularly excited to have made history with her win. Simmons’s campaign manager Kristen Young said that with Gail Johnson’s win in March, the Gainesville City Commission will have two African-American women commissioners serving simultaneously for the first time in the city’s history.
“I think we need diversity on the commission, different perspectives. We have that now,” Young said.
Johnson celebrated the win alongside Simmons, who was also joined by other Gainesville politicians, including outgoing commissioner Harvey Budd and U.S. House of Representatives candidate Tom Wells.
Goston was much less jubilant.
“[District 1 voters] made their choice and they’re going to have to live with it,” Goston said. “She wasn’t elected, she was selected.”
The Gainesville Canvassing Board will meet May 3 to finalize the election results. Simmons will be sworn in May 17.
WUFT News reporter Raymon Troncoso contributed to this story.