Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


May 14, 2013

Election 2013: Candidates exhausted but forging ahead to runoff

JACKSONVILLE — If exhaustion had a name, it would probably be Jacksonville mayoral candidates Kenneth Melvin, Rob Gowin or William Igbokwe.

All three appeared to be in need of a serious nap Saturday as City Secretary Betty Thompson announced that Melvin and Gowin – with 389 and 426 votes respectively – had essentially tied in their bid for mayor. There will be a runoff election on June 11.

To be fair, Thompson appeared to be the one in most dire need of sleep. She was charged with overseeing municipal elections such as the one held Saturday. And, as the numbers may suggest, it was a huge one.

By Jacksonville standards in terms of voter turnout, Saturday's was a ferocious race.

Third mayoral candidate Igbokwe won 147 votes. After the results were announced, he pledged to toss his supper to Gowin for the 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, with his 426, was the winner of the popular vote. However, despite the fact nearly 1,000 voters cast ballots, there was no clear majority in this case because a candidate must attract more than 50 percent of all votes cast in an election.

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 candidates were very upbeat, but they also seemed determined to take the pace down a notch after the results were announced.

“It's 'Miller time',” Gowin joked.

Gowin, 44, 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 a separate race, incumbent District 3 Councilman Bill McDonald, with 277 vitas,  defeated challenger Phil Huttash with 194 votes.

District 1 incumbent councilman Hubert Robinson filed for reelection but has already been proclaimed the winner because he was unopposed.

The results of the elections will not be canvassed until after the mayoral race runoff, Thompson said.

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