More than 100 supporters filled The Warehouse Restaurant and Lounge to greet mayor elect Ed Braddy as final results were posted from the mayoral runoff election Tuesday night. The energized members of the Braddy campaign team celebrated with music, food and slideshows of photos showing volunteers on the campaign trail drumming up community support.
Braddy, a former two-term City Commissioner, held a steady lead from the first precinct updates to the last on Tuesday, finally unseating incumbent Craig Lowe when he secured 55 percent of the 13,265 total votes.
Braddy’s campaign revolved around the business community’s demand for a streamlined and transparent city government.
“We have a lot of big businesses that are doing really well,” Braddy said. “They get support from the city, they get a lot of good press and we are all really happy they are successful. The smaller businesses, on the other hand, tend to get stuck in the system.”
Braddy wants to bring both sides together to identify the barriers to entry for small businesses and simplify the system for business owners to get approvals and support.
“I think we’ll see an explosion of growth in the sector and be better for it,” Braddy said.
While Braddy spent much of his campaign fighting for recognition and support, he was far from the underdog on Tuesday night.
The overall voter turnout exceeded the March 19 general election by 1,171 votes, with the highest voting precinct recording 72 percent of its 1,133 votes for Braddy. The four precincts with the highest percentage turnout voted overwhelmingly in favor of Braddy. Participation in each of the four, all located west of 13th Street and North of University Avenue exceeded 35 percent. Only 16.2 percent of the total electorate voted.
Braddy received 1,190 more votes than Lowe’s challenger in 2010, Don Marsh, who received 6,068 in that election.
Lowe took the majority of votes placed around the urban core, with many of the precincts located there reporting more than 60 percent of their total votes in his favor.
The differences between the two candidates’ platforms became strikingly more clear during the final two public forums held between the general election and the runoff election. As the two sparred over issues such as the biomass plant and transportation infrastructure, both dealt with negative personal issues. The differences in how each candidate handled pressure from the public became a prominent divider between the two campaigns.
“Ours was increasingly positive, and theirs became increasingly negative,” Braddy said. “I think at the end of the day, people said ‘this is a guy with a practical approach and that’s what we need right now.’”
At Lowe’s campaign headquarters, the watch party sat silently as each precinct update flashed across the computer screen.
When the final update came through right before 7:40 p.m., the crowd of about 20 campaign interns, volunteers and supporters embraced as they waited for word from Lowe, who watched results privately in an adjacent room.
Lowe finally emerged after talking with Braddy over the telephone, pledging to work with the mayor elect through the new transition and thanking his volunteers for their work during the campaign.
“That is the beauty of democracy; the voters get to decide,” Lowe said.