Republican Nick Howland bested Democrat Tracye Polson in the special election Tuesday for an at-large Jacksonville City Council seat.
The two candidates initially faced each other in December — an election where both candidates received a roughly equal share of the votes — before heading to Tuesday’s runoff.
The special election was called to replace the late Tommy Hazouri, a former mayor, legislator, School Board member and, most recently, city councilman.
Howland can take office once the election results are certified, which likely means he will be able to participate in the next City Council meeting on March 8. His election further cemented a Republican supermajority on the 19-member City Council, which will now have 14 Republicans and five Democrats.
Only about one in five registered voters voted in the election.
Polson, a licensed clinical social worker, emphasized mental health, recycling pickup and gay rights issues in her closing push.
Howland criticized Polson’s mental health focus, saying money spent on a mental health co-responder program was tantamount to “defunding” the police, even though the program was supported by Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.
The election brought heavy-hitter endorsements to Jacksonville.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, state Sen. Annette Taddeo and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, all of whom are campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor, each endorsed and supported Polson.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford and Sheriff Mike Williams endorsed Howland. DeSantis recorded a robocall for Howland, and a text signed by DeSantis went to registered Republican voters.
Polson and Howland spent about a million dollars combined, as of last week, on the election.
Polson and her husband, Kevin Clair, spent about $400,000 of their own money on the campaign.
Howland raised about $240,000 directly and another $200,000 from his political committee. Polson raised about $215,000 directly with another $57,000 raised for her committee.