Turnout, absentee ballots up in Tuesday runoff

Published 2:38 pm Wednesday, October 7, 2020

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More than 100 additional voters cast ballots in one of Selma’s 15 precincts during Tuesday’s municipal runoff election, which decided the city’s next mayor, council president and a handful of council seats, as compared to the first round in August.

Additionally, about 1,165 absentee ballots were cast in Tuesday’s election, an increase of roughly 300 over August tallies.

In the mayoral race, two-term former Mayor James Perkins Jr., who held the seat from 2000 until 20008, came out victorious over Miah Jackson, who abandoned her post representing Ward 3 on the Selma City Council to run for mayor.

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A precinct-by-precinct breakdown shows that Jackson claimed victory at only two of the city’s 15 precincts in Tuesday’s election – Memorial Stadium and the Dallas County Courthouse – while Perkins won all the others and the absentee vote, in which he had over 200 more votes than his opponent.

In the end, Perkins, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, outpaced Jackson by more than 1,800 votes.

In a social media post, Jackson thanked supporters and pledged her support for Perkins as he takes on the city’s top seat.

“Mayor-elect Perkins, I will be a champion for your worthy pursuits and [am] praying for your and the council’s success,” Jackson said in the statement. “When Selma wins, we all win.”

The race for the president’s seat on the Selma City Council was a closer match, with Warren “Billy” Young ultimately claiming victory over Lydia Chatmon by about 780 votes.

“I want to thank everybody in Selma for placing a vote of confidence in electing me as the new city council president,” Young said, his voice hoarse after an election night celebration. “It means a lot when your hometown places faith in your ability and they know your heart. So, it means a great deal that the people of Selma turned out the way they did.”

Chatmon claimed victory at five polling places across the city – the Selma Mall, Queen of Peace, George Washington Carver (GWC) Community Center, the Broad Street Fire Station and Trinity Baptist Church, but Young’s margin of victory at the other boxes, as well as his over 200 more absentee ballots, pushed him over the top.

For Chatmon, however, the end of the campaign is just the beginning of more work to come.

“I am grateful for all the prayers and support the ‘Let’s Grow Selma’ campaign received,” Chatmon said. “Although we did not win [at] the ballot box, I am committed to working to grow Selma forward. I ask those who supported me to continue to stay engaged and remain ready to lend a hand – we have a lot of work to do.”

Young offered praise for Chatmon and offered her well-wishes moving forward.

“In this race, I was never running against Lydia Chatmon,” Young said. “I was running for Selma.”

And while Young is anxious to get started – the new batch of city leaders will officially take office Monday, Nov. 2 – he noted that he wanted to meet with his new team, the Selma City Council, before making too many grand promises.

“Before I start talking about and espousing a lot of things, I’ve got to get with the people I’m working with first,” Young said. “I have relationships with most of them already, but I want to further develop those relationships and build a rapport with those individuals. We have to start on the right foot, so we have to start off together. That’s the key.”

Additionally, that includes meeting with mayor-elect Perkins and outgoing Selma City Council President Corey Bowie, who Young said would be an invaluable asset.

“His experience and his knowledge will be a benefit in moving forward,” Young said.

In the Ward 3 council race, Clay Carmichael claimed victory over Mead Walker by a margin of just over 60 votes – Carmichael won out at both Memorial Stadium and the Christian Outreach Alliance (COA) facility, though Walker outpaced Carmichael 113-80 in absentee ballots.

Landon Nichols fell to Christie Thomas in the Ward 2 contest by a margin of less than 60 votes, coming up sort by less than 20 votes at the YMCA and just over 40 absentee votes.

Lesia James bested Javares Whitely in the Ward 4 race by more than 100 votes, collecting only five votes more at the Selma Mall box, but claiming over 50 more votes at the Woodrow Fire Station and over 60 more absentee votes.

The Ward 6 contest went to newcomer Atkin Jemison, who outpaced former council member B.L. Tucker by more than 240 votes – Jemison collected over 70 more votes than Tucker at both the Broad Street Fire Station and New St. John Baptist Church boxes, as well as an additional 90 absentee votes.