Ed Book is headed for a seat on the Gainesville City Commission after a tight race concluded Tuesday night.
James Ingle took an initial lead as early votes rang in. There were nerves throughout the room at the firefighter’s lodge where Book and mayoral candidate Ed Bielarski held a joint party. For a long time, the candidates were less than a point apart — a stark difference from the results of their primary election competition.
But as votes came in, Book once again reigned supreme in the race for the Gainesville City Commission District 2 seat. By night’s end, he had secured 51% of the vote.
“This election shows that you have two really good candidates, and one of those candidates just finished a little bit short of the other one,” Book said. “This was the cleanest race of all of them, it was the most ethical race of all of them.”
Book said both candidates ran on their merits, not attacking each other. Around 9 p.m, Ingle called him and they shared a great, brief conversation.
Ingle told Book he looks forward to working together.
“And I feel likewise,” Book said. “You work with everybody, you work with your opponents, one of them was here tonight — Ms. (Jo Lee) Beaty — so I welcome that opportunity.”
Back in August, the two candidates, along with Beaty and Michael Raburn faced off in the primaries. Book won 40% of the vote, while Ingle took 27%. This time, he narrowed the margin to two points.
Ingle said canvassing made the race much closer. People on both sides showed strong passion.
“Obviously a little bit disappointed, but Ed’s a good person, and I’m sure he’s going to make a fine commissioner,” Ingle said. “In the end, we’re all in Gainesville, we’re all going to come together.”
Ingle, following a much-needed nap, plans to keep working.
“I’ve been involved in the City Commission for a long time, pushing for working peoples’ rights and wage theft,” he said. “I expect those things will continue.”
During a mixer between candidates at the beginning of the campaigns, Book supporters Diane and Bob Robar met Ingle. They said Ingle was kind and became their second-best choice — their connection to Book through the Rotary Club of Downtown Gainesville proved too hard to beat.
Diane Robar said Book is one of the most fine, conscientious and honest people she knows.
“There’s a wide variety of Democrats and Republicans here,” Bob Robar said. “I think they all just know Ed Book.”
Diane Robar cut in and said that’s the common denominator.
“We didn’t vote by party, we voted for Ed, because we know Ed,” Bob Robar said.
Once enough votes came in to safely give an acceptance speech, Book thanked his supporters and volunteers, along with their civility.
Though he and his wife planned to clean up the firefighters’ lodge afterward, Book said he will be up bright and early Wednesday for a Run with the Cops event at Santa Fe College to support adults with special abilities and disabilities. Also in his plans: Reconnecting with his wife, who’s similarly been putting in a ton of campaign work.
Book said he’s been preparing for 10 months for this seat — from studying materials to watching City Commission meetings. He will continue to meet with Beaty, along with current and former elected officials. And most of all, he plans to listen.
“Treating people well. Respect, courtesy, civility, professionalism,” Book said. “I plan to be one of seven who does that.”
Policy-wise, getting the budget in order is his main priority. He will be asking the other commissioners to please consider exactly what they currently have so they can move forward.
“The fact that it was so close shows they both had really good supporters who really believed in them,” Diane Robar said. “City Commission would have done well with either one, but really happy for Ed, he worked really hard. Public servant.”