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29% Of Voters Make Voices Heard

Jacksonville Mayor, Sheriff, Other Races On First Election Ballot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After two weeks of early voting and 12 hours collecting ballots at precincts Tuesday, fewer than 150,000 Jacksonville citizens cast ballots for mayor, sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser and 14 City Council seats.

The first ballots counted -- likely early and absentee votes that were counted as soon as the polls closed at 7 p.m. -- showed Mike Hogan with an early lead in the six-way race for mayor.

To win in the first election, a candidate needs 50 percent plus one vote, to avoid a runoff. So while Hogan was guaranteed a runoff spot early, the question lingered: who would he face May 17?

Over the two hours, Hogan's lead grew to 34.2 percent after 149,267 votes were counted. While Audrey Moran began the night in second place, by 8:15 p.m., Alvin Brown crept past her. With 99 percent of the precincts counted, Brown was more than 4,000 votes ahead of Moran.

Rick Mullaney, who spent the most money in the race but will finish in fourth place, came out just before 9 p.m. to face his cheering supporters. He thanked those who believed in him and congratulated his competitors in the mayor's race.

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Moran also spoke to a large crowd at her campaign headquarters, thanking her supporters and congratulating her opponents.

In other races, Sheriff John Rutherford and Property Appraiser Jim Overton appear headed to re-election. For tax collector, to replace the office Hogan is vacating in his bid for mayor, former City Councilman Michael Corrigan and former state Rep. Dick Kravitz are assured of being in the May runoff.

In City Council races, incumbents John Crescimbeni, Richard Clark, Bill Bishop, Johnny Gaffney and Ray Holt were re-elected, but opponents got enough votes to force Clay Yarborough and Jack Webb into runoffs.

When early voting began, Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland predicted a 43 percent turnout. By late Tuesday, after a slow day at the 256 precincts, he lowered that estimate to 28 percent -- a number he called "a disappointment."

Nearly one third of the votes cast came before the polls opened Tuesday -- either through early or absentee ballots.

"It's such an important race," Holland said. "We had some great candidates with great resumes. All of them had a passion for the city, but it just didn't turn the voters out."

"Shame on this community for not turning out in this election," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said at Moran's headquarters Tuesday night.

One of the first in line to vote Tuesday morning at Southside United Methodist Church in San Marco said it's a good thing she didn't vote early.

"I actually did change my mind at the last minute, so I'm glad I waited," said Karen Saltmarsh.

Daihner Burns said he votes to make lives better.

?Because if I don?t vote, I don?t have a voice," Burns said. "So I can?t sit back and complain if I don?t try to make the situation better, our lives better. So sometimes you?ve got to sit down, go through all they said they?re going to do, not knowing if they?re going to do what they say they?ll do.?