Van Johnson may have lost the support of many people in the downtown Savannah community (including many business owners who live and therefore vote in other districts), but he easily won re-election to his 1st district council seat with 68% of the vote. Ruel Joyner, who ran a high-profile campaign made all the more public by a residency challenge, and Tonia Miller, who ran a very low-key campaign, both finished far back.
While Johnson has lost support among many downtown folks and 1st district residents who live near me in Thomas Square, he clearly has a very strong base of support in West Savannah.
Such a resounding victory might have been a good point for Johnson to take a conciliatory tone. Instead, as noted by WTGS, he said this:
“People chose to engage in dirty, deceitful, derogatory, divisive politics. In reality, Savannahians are tired of that type of stuff. They did not play into the lies; they did not play into the deceit,” Johnson said.
The election is over. Joyner is president of the Downtown Business Association, an organization that could and should play a critical role in the future of the city. Johnson has to know that many consider him a divisive figure — at least since the Locos/chicken wing fiasco and ensuing bureaucratic nightmare Johnson precipitated just as the economy was entering recession at the end of 2007.
One would hope that Johnson would go into his third term trying to rebuild bridges. Regrettably, that was not the choice he made last night.