Special election for Jacksonville City Council seat heads to runoff

Nick Howland, Tracye Polson advance to runoff

A special citywide election in Jacksonville for the City Council At-Large Group 3 seat is heading to a runoff.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A special citywide election in Jacksonville for the City Council At-Large Group 3 seat is heading to a runoff.

The At-Large Group 3 seat was left empty when City Councilman Tommy Hazouri, the former council president and mayor, died in September.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, with all 199 precincts reporting, Democrat Dr. Tracye Polson had 36.72% of the vote and Republican Nick Howland had 35.94%.

The other two candidates running to fill the remaining term on the seat, Democrat James “Coach” Jacobs and Republican Howland “Howdy” Russell, got 13.68% and 13.66% of the vote, respectively.

Since none of the four candidates were able to get more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters — Polson and Howland — advance to the runoff Feb. 22.


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The campaigning has already started. News4JAX spoke with the top two vote-getters shortly after the results came in.

Polson said she is ready to continue this campaign and the city will be hearing much more from her about her plans for the council if elected.

“We are ready to continue to get our message out to people in Duval — which I think people are responding to,” Polson said. “We are talking about transparency, accountability, the fact that we need elected leaders who cannot be bought. We saw that with JEA. We saw that with Lot J. I think people in Jacksonville want a different kind of leader, and I am that leader.”

Howland’s campaign on Tuesday really got the Republican vote out. More Democrats than Republicans voted early or by mail, but that changed Tuesday as Republican turnout was stronger on election day. In the end, the parties were about even when it came to the number of voters who turned out.

Howland is ready to continue to get his message out.

“This city needs servant leadership. We need to back our police. We need safer streets and neighborhoods. We know how we’re going to grow over the next 10 years. We need to create jobs,” Howland said. “They are looking for leadership in City Council. I’m not surprised at all. In fact, I’m excited. I’m thrilled to go to the next round, and I’m excited about this momentum carrying all the way to Feb. 22.”

A special citywide election in Jacksonville for the City Council At-Large Group 3 seat is heading to a runoff.

Hazouri’s legacy

News4JAX also asked both Polson and Howland about Hazouri.

Polson talked about Hazouri’s legacy.

“I mean, Tommy endorsed me when I ran for the Florida House in 2018. I have tremendous respect for the work that he did in this community. Tommy Hazouri loved this city, and he worked across the aisle and he also stood up for what was right, and that is the part of his legacy I promise to live up to if I am elected in February,” Polson said.

Howland also had kind thoughts about Hazouri, but he said it’s time to add another Republican to the City Council.

“Tommy has a great legacy, 30 years of serving our city. But I look forward to adding another red seat to City Council and adding servant leadership. I look forward to pushing conservative values on City Council. I look forward to creating jobs. I look forward to being fiscally conservative and having good fiscal management of our budget. This city is waiting for leadership to take it to the next level, and I’m excited to be potentially a part of that,” Howland said.


Overall turnout was 12.59% at last check.

Ortega United Methodist Church was one of the busiest precincts in Jacksonville for voting on Tuesday, with more than 500 people casting a ballot. Other precincts were averaging about 150 people.

While the election is only for one City Council seat, News4JAX talked with voters who still feel it’s important.

“Voting is a right that not everyone in the world gets to exercise, and I want to take every opportunity I can to make my voice heard,” said voter Chad Cutlit.

Voter Donna Colyer said: “I want my grandson to learn that we vote in every election.”

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.