Republican Nick Howland and Democrat Tracye Polson will face each other in a February runoff for Jacksonville’s vacant at-large City Council seat.

Under Jacksonville’s jungle primary system, a candidate must win a majority of the vote to win. If no one accomplishes this in a first round of voting, then the top two candidates proceed to a runoff.

Polson and Howland are vying for one of five at-large seats on Jacksonville’s City Council following the death of Tommy Hazouri.

Only about 13 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the special election, which was timed for December, in between major holidays.

Mike Binder, a University of North Florida political scientist, said that “as terrible as turnout is,” he was actually surprised it got past 10 percent given the timing of the election.

Polson, a licensed clinical social worker, has emphasized mental health and environmental initiatives.

Howland, the executive director of a nonprofit focused on preventing veteran suicide, has said he’d prioritize directing resources to police, firefighters and veterans.

They faced James Jacobs, a somewhat perennial candidate who had previously run for School Board and City Council, and Howdy Russell, who owns the Jumpin’ Jax House of Food restaurants and ran a more conservative campaign focused on increasing police spending, cutting taxes and banning critical race theory.

Howland earned the endorsements of U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, Sheriff Mike Williams and other local Republican politicians, while Polson earned endorsements from all of Jacksonville’s Democratic state legislators.

Both Polson and Howland unsuccessfully ran for offices in 2018, Polson running for a state house district and Howland running for the county School Board.

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Andrew Pantazi is the founding editor of The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union where he helped organize the newsroom's union with the NewsGuild-CWA. He and his wife,...