In the Runoff Elections held Tuesday, December 1st , Eddie DeLoach blocked Mayor Edna Jackson’s bid for re-election; Brian Foster defeated Alicia Blakely in the race for the Alderman At-Large Post 2; and Bill Durrence outpaced Alderwoman Mary Osborne in the contest to represent District 2 on the Savannah City Council.
In the race for Mayor, DeLoach received 53 percent of the vote and Jackson received 47 percent, while Foster outpaced Blakely with 53 percent to her 47 percent in the other city-wide race. In the contest for the Second District City Council seat, Durrence received 62 percent to Osborne’s 38 percent.
The key to each victory, especially the citywide races, was the high voter turnout in white neighborhoods when compared to the turnout in areas where the vast majority of the Black residents of Savannah live. The white voter turnout is estimated at 57%; and the estimate for Black voter turnout is about 30%.
Overall, only 23,614, or 39 percent, of the 60,570 registered voters turned out for the Runoff Election. All of the successful candidates are white men. All of the candidates who lost are African American females.
The successful campaigns used the crime issue that is plaguing Savannah and the nation to help achieve the high white voter turnout. This was especially so in the two city-wide races. The DeLoach campaign was aided by several negative, and largely inaccurate, opinion articles, personal attacks, and insulting characterizations of Mayor Jackson.
By using live gunshots in his television commercials, he raised the fear level of the white electorate and distorted the overall crime picture in Savannah.
In spite of the attacks, Jackson maintained her commitment to running a positive campaign and responded by touting her record as one of the most successful mayors in the nation.
She highlighted the appointment of a new police chief, her ongoing community-based crime reduction initiatives, and her ability to maintain peace in a Westside neighborhood during a critical time of community unrest. She also noted that because of good financial management during her administration, the City achieved its AA+ bond rating, the strongest rating Savannah has had in thirty years.
She emphasized the fact that under her leadership, Savannah has improved its supply of affordable housing, purchased an old fairground site to erect additional housing and recreational facilities while also moving Savannah from 145th to 78th on the list of the best places own businesses or work. As an outstanding global ambassador for the city, she assisted in recruiting international businesses and trade and worked with Visit Savannah to promote Savannah around the globe. Her efforts helped increase tourism to 13.5 million visitors during 2014 – the largest number ever. She also recalled her support for the approval of SPLOST and ESPLOST that are paying for many community improvement projects as well as new and improved schools.
As a result of the November 3rd General Election and the December 1, 2015 Runoff Election, the new Savannah City Council will include Mayor Eddie DeLoach; Alderman At- Large Post 1 Carol Bell; Alderman At-Large Post 2 Brian Foster; District 1 Alderman Van R. Johnson; District 2 Alderman Bill Durrence; District 3 Alderman John Hall; District 4 Alderman Julian Miller; District 5 Alderman Estella Edwards Shabazz; and District 6 Alderman Tony Thomas. The new members are De- Loach, Durrence, Foster and Miller.
Although the new Mayor and Council officially take over immediately after midnight on January 1, 2016, it is a custom in Savannah to have a public swearing-in ceremony during early January of the new term.