Live blog of the 2015 Savannah municipal elections

bill dawers November 3, 201510:56 pm

One more time:

Mayor: heading to runoff DeLoach-Jackson

Post 1: Bell reelected

Post 2: Blakely-Foster runoff

D1: Johnson reelected

D2: Durrence-Osborne runoff

D3: Hall reelected

D4: Miller the challenger wins big

D5: Shabazz reelected

D6: Thomas reelected

bill dawers November 3, 201510:54 pm

Provisional ballots have not been included in those counts below, and there could be some other straggling votes (but I don’t know where they would come from at this point).

What will happen re a legal challenge regarding improper campaigning too close to the polls by the Osborne camp?

In the forthcoming runoff, will we once again be treated to a “sample ballot” flyer with Jackson, Foster, and Osborne supporting each other?

What will Jackson try to accomplish as mayor over the next month to try to win back some of the 1,500 voters who chose her over Jeff Felser in 2011 but defected today?

Hey, it’s been fun (and I hope informative). I’d be crunching numbers like this all night by myself, but it’s more interesting with a blog.

bill dawers November 3, 201510:47 pm

bill dawers November 3, 201510:46 pm

bill dawers November 3, 201510:44 pm

bill dawers November 3, 201510:42 pm

Shabazz takes D5, 52-48, over McKeithen. About 100 votes. I’m impressed with McKeithen’s performance and I sure hope we hear from her again.

So, a Blakely-Foster runoff for post 2. That is going to be very interesting.

As is the Durrence-Osborne runoff (if she in fact can withstand a legal challenge) in D1.

There will be a few more votes straggle in, but I’ll post another recap in a moment. 

bill dawers November 3, 201510:32 pm

So, I thought that Mary Ellen Sprague was an underdog for reelection in D4, but she got beat by 2,000 votes and fell short of 30 percent. That’s a resounding win for Julian Miller.

I’m always curious why some campaigns never take hold, and the final numbers tonight will definitely lead to some head-scratching as some seemingly solid candidates did very poorly — like Zena McClain in D6; Andree Patterson in D2; Travis Coles, Clinton Young, and G. Lind Taylor in at-large post 2. I paid pretty close attention to the mayor’s race, so I’m not surprised at the final tally for Silver (12 percent-ish) or Wilson (2 percent). 

bill dawers November 3, 201510:22 pm

So we still don’t have final numbers from the following polling places:

Old Courthouse 

Wildwood United Meth (I assume that is an abbreviation for Methodist)

Immanuel Bapt Church

If you know of any problems at those polling places, please hop over to the Savannah Unplugged page on Facebook and comment on any thread there. 

Also, given the locations, I’d say that it is at least still possible that McKeithen could pick up enough votes to beat Shabazz, but Shabazz is up by over 100 right now. 

bill dawers November 3, 201510:06 pm

So should we be paranoid that we’re having to wait so long for literally just a few precincts?

Looks like turnout will be only a tiny bit higher than in 2011.

Where will the Silver vote go? Or will it stay home? That’s a key question for the runoff. Murray Silver took about 12  percent of the vote tonight in the mayoral race. Still waiting on a few more votes, but Jackson will be near 45 percent, DeLoach near 41 percent. Silver definitely attracted an iconoclastic group — people who seem unlikely to flock to support DeLoach. So, as we head to a runoff, edge to Jackson. 

The at-large post 2 runoff appears to be coming down to Brian Foster and Alicia Blakely — and that ought to be fascinating. Foster enters the runoff as a heavy favorite, but I would not count Blakely out. 

Mary Osborne got 65 percent of the vote in 2011 in winning D1. Tonight, she has only 29 percent. If Bill Durrence can pick up any support from Leggett, or if any of the Leggett support stays home, Durrence will win that runoff. (Assuming, of course, that Leggett is unable to file a successful legal challenge against Osborne.)

bill dawers November 3, 20159:51 pm

Here’s an updated scorecard:

Mayor: runoff in December between DeLoach and Jackson

Post 1: Carol Bell reelected

Post 2: runoff between Brian Foster and probably Alicia Blakely (still a few votes out there, so Steffen still has a chance)

D1: Van Johnson reelected

D2: runoff between Durrence and Osborne (pending some sort of legal challenge from Leggett because of campaign activity that certainly seemed illegal by Osborne supporters today)

D3: John Hall reelected

D4: Julian Miller cruises to an easy win over the incumbent Sprague

D5: Estella Shabazz appears poised to eke out a narrow win over Shaundra McKeithen

D6: Tony Thomas reelected

bill dawers November 3, 20159:39 pm

A few thoughts as we wait on more numbers (5 precincts at least seem significantly delayed, including 3 in the 5th):

In the runoff against Jeff Felser in 2011, Edna Jackson took 57 percent of the vote. It looks like she’ll finish tonight with about 45 percent. That’s a miserable performance for an incumbent mayor. I think she will still be a formidable opponent in the runoff, however.

Kudos to Kim Dulek for pushing John Hall much harder than I expected in D4.

I hope Detric Leggett will do whatever needs to be done to file a formal complaint against the Osborne campaign for the improper campaigning outside a polling place today.

bill dawers November 3, 20159:27 pm

So to recap:

Mayor: runoff in December between DeLoach and Jackson

Post 1: Carol Bell reelected

Post 2: runoff between Brian Foster and probably Alicia Blakely (still a few votes out there, so Steffen still has a chance)

D1: Van Johnson reelected

D2: runoff between Durrence and probably Osborne (still a few votes out there so Leggett is not entirely done)

D3: John Hall reelected

D4: Julian Miller cruises to an easy win over the incumbent Sprague


D6: Tony Thomas reelected

In other news, the folks on Tybee do not want a pool. 

bill dawers November 3, 20159:20 pm

John Hall has narrowly defeated Kim Dulek in D3, though I will say that Dulek did better than I thought she would. Final vote will be something like 55-45. 

Tony Thomas is the winner in D6, handily as it turns out.

If Osborne nudges out Leggett for the D2 runoff, will Leggett file an official complaint about illegal campaigning this morning? I sure hope so. 

bill dawers November 3, 20159:17 pm

We are headed for a runoff between DeLoach and Jackson for Mayor of Savannah. Good times (right?). 

bill dawers November 3, 20159:15 pm

Bill Durrence will make the D1 runoff, Osborne vs. Leggett too close to call.

Dulek trailing Hall in D3 but not by much.

McKeithen slightly ahead of Shabazz in D5.

“Teflon Tony” appears to be doing well enough to avoid a runoff in D6.

I’m fighting my software a little bit — I guess the site has gotten too busy and posts aren’t going up as quickly as they were earlier. 

bill dawers November 3, 20159:13 pm

I’m prepared to make some calls (don’t kill me if I’m wrong):

D4 Winner: Julian Miller

D1 Winner Van Johnson

Alderman At-Large Post 1 Winner: Carol Bell 

bill dawers November 3, 20159:07 pm

With the latest numbers, DeLoach has 45 percent to Jackson’s 40 percent. Probably fewer than 10,000 votes remaining to be counted. Sure looks like a runoff. 

bill dawers November 3, 20159:02 pm

It appears that the open alderman post 1 seat is definitely going to a runoff, which right now would be between Brian Foster and Alicia Blakely. Joe Steffen is lurking not far behind, however. 

bill dawers November 3, 20158:58 pm

Miller is cruising to victory in D4, as is Johnson in D1. 

bill dawers November 3, 20158:51 pm

With probably about half the votes in, DeLoach and Jackson are virtually tied with just under 43 percent. 

Bell has 57 percent in post 1.

Durrenc 38 percent, Leggett 27 percent, Osborne 31 percent in D1. Definitely headed to a runoff, but who?

bill dawers November 3, 20158:44 pm

In other early returns, Julian Miller has a huge lead over Mary Ellen Sprague; Shaundra McKeithen is only slightly trailing Estella Shabazz; and Tony Thomas has 55 percent of the vote in D6, as he tries to avoid a runoff. 

bill dawers November 3, 20158:41 pm

So far, Carol Bell has over 58 percent of the vote and appears headed to reelection.

For at-large post 2, Alicia Blakely and Brian Foster are out in front, with Joe Steffen third. That race is going to be volatile though, as numbers keep coming in. 

bill dawers November 3, 20158:39 pm

It’s really early, but in the precincts partially reporting so far, Eddie DeLoach is running well ahead of Murray Silver, and Louis Wilson is barely registering at all. 

So the question in the mayor’s race tonight is this: Will we have a Jackson-DeLoach runoff, or will Jackson win outright tonight? (She needs over 50 percent of the vote.)

bill dawers November 3, 20158:35 pm

Ok, early numbers:

bill dawers November 3, 20158:24 pm

So, what shall we talk about? Still waiting on the first returns, but please keep in mind that things will move swiftly once the numbers start being posted. I won’t “call” any of the races till I’m certain of anything, but we’ll know a lot very quickly.

Btw, I’m listening for the first time — finally — to Futurebirds’ excellent, excellent new album “Hotel Parties.” I just finished listening for the umpteenth time to “Drownin’ on a Mountaintop” by T. Hardy Morris and his band The Hardknocks. Lots of great music coming out of Athens these days …

bill dawers November 3, 20158:05 pm

Btw, the Brian Foster campaign Facebook page denies “endorsing” any other candidates, but so far does not address teaming with the Jackson campaign and jointly paying for and distributing a flyer that offers a “sample ballot” in support of all incumbents. Nor does the page address the apparent illegal distribution of those flyers directly outside one or more polling places this morning. 

Still waiting for the first votes to come in. I’m thinking we should start to see some results from somewhere by 8:30. Tybee, Garden City, Port Wentworth, and Pooler also have elections today. 

bill dawers November 3, 20157:47 pm

So earlier I mentioned the controversial flyers jointly funded and distributed by the Jackson and Foster campaigns. Here’s the one that was waiting for me on Sunday when I came back into town. Brian Foster had tried to position himself as a knowledgable, frank, and pragmatic critic of the sitting city council, so it simply smacked of desperation that he joined forces with Jackson’s campaign, going so far as to support Osborne (who has little support in this corner of Thomas Square). 

bill dawers November 3, 20157:38 pm

While we’re waiting, some of you might want to read this less-than-introspective interview with Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter by Eric Curl in the Savannah Morning News. 

Cutter assures us that we really shouldn’t be upset about the things we’re upset about: “Surely, my decisions, or my recommendations, some didn’t agree with. But those recommendations are based upon what is really best for this community.” So good to hear that she has the best interests of the community in mind, but that her critics do not …

Also this: “I’m disappointed it always seems that all the positive things are overshadowed by negative things. Some continue to live in the past and not recognize how we are moving forward.” 

So what are we moving forward on? The deeply flawed and compromised Cultural Arts Center which doesn’t meet the most fundamental goals we had for it a decade ago? The alcohol ordinance revision that staff has been working on for almost 3 years? The floundering Waters Avenue strip mall the city owns, or the full block of Hall Street that the city has owned for many years? The food truck ordinance drafted by her staff that is so restrictive that we will essentially never have food trucks? 

Or maybe we are finally going to move forward on trying to finalize a police merger that might already be dead?

Mayor Edna Jackson has made strident defenses of Cutter, so I guess it’s the mayor and council that are preventing any substantive action on these and a host of other issues. 

bill dawers November 3, 20157:12 pm

Finally, the page where we will be able to see all results throughout Chatham County is live. Go here. 

bill dawers November 3, 20157:11 pm

I learned a few minutes ago that street flooding (how fitting on election day!) shut down Abercorn on that usual stretch near 65th Street. That means some last-minute voters headed to the JEA may simply have been prevented from accessing the polls. 

bill dawers November 3, 20157:07 pm

So how vulnerable is incumbent Mayor Edna Jackson? 

I don’t think she’s nearly as vulnerable as her detractors, and apparently many of her supporters, seem to think. She is not being challenged significantly by another black candidate (I was glad to see Louis Wilson in the race, but I don’t expect him to get many votes). Jackson will also get some crossover votes from white liberals, the business establishment, and various other constituencies. I think she has a fair chance of winning outright tonight, but, if she doesn’t, she could face a really tough runoff against Eddie DeLoach, who I’m pretty sure will take second. 

bill dawers November 3, 20157:01 pm

Are any of the other incumbents really in danger? 

Tony Thomas in District 6 has 3 solid competitors (he ran unopposed four years ago). John Hall in D3, Van Johnson in D1, and Estella Shabazz in D5 all have spirited challengers, but I really don’t know if they have built strong enough networks to unseat the incumbents.

Carol Bell is probably a shoe-in for reelection for her at-large post, but she disenchanted many of us in recent days by apparently signing onto the hamhanded Jackson-Foster attempt to urge voters to return all incumbents to office. I queried Bell’s official Facebook page whether the flyer dropped on my front porch implied her endorsement of Osborne for D2; there was no response.

bill dawers November 3, 20156:57 pm

Mary Ellen Sprague in District 4 also seems vulnerable, maybe even an underdog. Julian Miller — former spokesperson for the police force and former publisher of the Savannah Morning News — has mounted a strong campaign focusing on crime, which is certainly the biggest issue of this campaign. 

Sprague did herself no favors with the desperate-looking campaign ad that showed her with Chief Jack Lumpkin.

bill dawers November 3, 20156:53 pm

Lots of talk of change this time around, but who are the most vulnerable incumbents, assuming any of them are?

Mary Osborne is extremely vulnerable in District 2. She has been widely seen as one of the most ineffective members of council, but what does that mean here in Savannah? Of course, Osborne also is running as an incumbent in a district that has been significantly redrawn and is much closer to racial parity than the previous district.

As of the 2010 census, the new 2nd district was still about 55 percent black, but several neighborhoods, including Metropolitan which is loosely bounded by Anderson, Bull, Victory, and MLK, continue to see rapid demographic change. 

Look for Detric Leggett and Bill Durrence to do very well tonight in their efforts to unseat Osborne. I don’t know if Andree Patterson, who also seems like a good candidate, has done enough to get her name out there. 

Will Osborne even make it to a runoff? Presumably, no candidate will reach 50 percent tonight, so the top two will face off again in a runoff election in early December. 

bill dawers November 3, 20156:47 pm

Polls are closing shortly, but it’s going to be awhile before we have any numbers, so let me explain my setup here. I’m using a live blogging plugin for WordPress. I’ll just be checking the results via Chatham County’s Board of Elections site, which right now says “No current election,” which might be a bad sign.

By the way, in addition to the apparently illegal distribution of flyers too close to some polling places, there was also confusion today because it seems that some precincts had signs up for the county election information rather than the city. 

bill dawers November 3, 20155:40 pm

The polls remain open till 7 p.m., so I’m going to wander down the street to Sly’s Sliders and Fries and get some food. If you haven’t tried it, you should. 

bill dawers November 3, 20155:20 pm

Click here for my final (ish) thoughts on the races. In light of their involvement in that flyer supporting all incumbents, I could not support Bell or Foster for the at-large positions. I don’t think Linda Wilder-Bryan will be able to unseat Bell, although the other post — the open seat to replace Tom Bordeaux — is up for grabs. There are six credible candidates, and the race seems certain to head to a runoff. 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone make the at-large post 2 runoff with as little as 20 percent of the vote. 
bill dawers November 3, 20155:14 pm

5:15A word on the Savannah Morning News endorsements:As most of you know, I’m a longtime freelance columnist for the Savannah Morning News (15 years and counting). I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about the SMN in regards to the election, and many of those complaints were in advance — people were mad about who they assumed the editorial team would be endorsing.In a surprise to many, the newspaper endorsed a number of challengers and broke significantly with the PAC closely affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce. Here were the SMN endorsements:Mayor: Eddie DeLoachPost 1: Carol BellPost 2: Brian FosterDistrict 1: Van JohnsonDistrict 2: Bill DurrenceDistrict 3: Kim DulekDistrict 4: Julian MillerDistrict 5: Shaundra McKeithenDistrict 6: Tony Thomas Bell, Johnson, and Thomas are the only incumbents on that list. Click here for the editorial summarizing the SMN endorsements. 

bill dawers November 3, 20154:55 pm

4:59 p.m.

Expect the Detric Leggett campaign (he is one of the main challengers to incumbent Mary Osborne in District 2) to make an official complaint about improper campaigning if Osborne makes it into a runoff and he does not. 

Click here for coverage in Connect Savannah. 

bill dawers November 3, 20154:47 pm

4:49 p.m.

I’m not sure how this is going to go, but I am going to experiment with live blogging as the elections return come in tonight in Savannah.There has already been some disturbing news regarding today’s. I’ve written in a previous post and on Facebook about the ethically questionable flyers that say “Sample Ballot” that are being jointly distributed by the Edna Jackson and Brian Foster campaigns. Those flyers endorse Foster for the open at-large seat and all eight other incumbents on council.
And those flyers were being passed out apparently for several hours this morning immediately outside one or more polling places. This sure looks like a violation of the law.
Click here for WTOC’s coverage.