We’ve entered the homestretch in the Savannah mayoral runoff between Jeff Felser and Edna Jackson, which will be decided on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
I’ve written a lot about the 2011 city elections. See my page of links to posts, and in particular these: Some thoughts on the Savannah Morning News endorsement of Edna Jackson and First forum in Savannah mayoral runoff focuses on sustainability and transportation. In my Savannah Morning News column today, which you can find at the top of the list of links in the sidebar to the right, I talk at length about questions infrastructure and the extreme uncertainty still surrounding projects like an arena and a new police headquarters, despite the fact that voters first approved those in 2006.
As I keep noting, Jackson is the clear favorite going into the runoff, but turnout could play a critical role. With only about 20,000 voters determining the outcome, every vote really does matter in this election. Jeff seems to have energized a significant number of younger white voters; if they show up on Tuesday, this could be a much closer race than many predicted.
Of course, there’s also another runoff — Tom Bordeaux and Clinton Young face each other in a citywide election for one of the at-large aldermanic seats. The other seat was won pretty easily by Carol Bell in the general election last month.
In the mayoral race, most of the establishment forces have lined up behind Edna Jackson, who is viewed in prominent circles as someone who can be worked with. Or, as a cynic might say, maybe she is just seen as the eventual winner — and therefore someone to be supported for anyone who hopes to work closely with the city.
A paradox of the race: while a small percentage of the electorate is very engaged, most are not — at all. Another paradox: despite the energy and money and contentiousness, the day to day operations of the city will be handled by the city manager’s office.
I wish that the candidates had put a little more distance between themselves on policy issues — and I’ll bet that’s what many of Jeff’s supporters will be wishing if the election goes as predicted. Felser’s campaign really hasn’t staked out the type of specific, signature initiatives that might excite voters enough to drive a greater turnout. At the same time, Edna seems to have done a decent job distancing herself — at least in the minds of some voters — from some of the actions by mayor and council over the last year and a half that created an unnecessarily tense political season.