Jacksonville Daily Progress
JACKSONVILLE — Nearly 1,000 voters cast ballots in Saturday's mayoral election, which yielded an essential tie between incumbent Kenneth Melvin and challenger Rob Gowin — necessitating a June 11 runoff.
In a separate race, incumbent Councilman Bill Mc-Donald defeated challenger Phil Huttash in the District 3 council election.
As far as the mayor's race is concerned, Gowin attracted the most votes, 426 ballots cast, to Melvin's 389 and challenger William Igbokwe's 147, according to election results disclosed Saturday by City Secretary Betty Thompson.
To win an election, a candidate must attract more than 50 percent of all votes cast. If there is no clear majority — commonplace during a three-candidate election such as this one — a runoff is held between the two candidates with the most votes. In this case it is Gowin and Melvin.
Saturday's turnout is a huge increase over the May 2011 mayoral election, in which Melvin first won the mayoral seat over opponent Jeff Smith by a mere 31 votes.
All three mayoral candidates were present in the lobby of the Jacksonville Public Library when the city secretary read off the election results.
Igbokwe said afterward he intends to throw his political support toward Gowin in the June 11 runoff.
"Rob is going to get my vote and hopefully the constituents who have supported me coming to the polls will follow suit," said Igbokwe, 23. "Largely, I feel for the most part his campaign and the trajectory he wants to take the community in falls in line with where I think Jacksonville should be."
Gowin, 44, was upbeat after learning he had the high vote in an election with so many ballots cast. Gowin said he had high hopes going into the runoff election and praised Igbokwe's contributions as a candidate.
"I think William brought a good crowd to the whole mayoral process," he said. "I think William and I both brought a crowd to the electorate that hadn't voted before."
Melvin, 72, said he isn't surprised that there is a runoff, given that there were three candidates — which would have made pinpointing any one clear winner difficult.
"I am just thankful I am involved in this runoff," Melvin said. "It was a very big turnout, which is good."
Results were high in early voting as well, with 263 early votes cast for Melvin, 249 early votes cast for Gowin and 73 early votes for Igbokwe. In total, there were 585 early votes cast in this election — which officials have said is a lot more than it has been in recent years.
In other election results:
• McDonald defeated challenger Huttash, 277 votes to 194. There were 166 votes cast for McDonald and 127 for Huttash in early voting, Thompson said.
District 1 incumbent councilman Hubert Robinson filed for reelection but has already been proclaimed the winner because he was unopposed.