By only 127 votes, Helen Warren beat Annie Orlando for a spot on the City Commission in Tuesday night’s runoff election.
Warren and supporters took the celebration to Tall Paul’s Brew House after results rolled in. She thanked those involved in the campaign, then took a moment to praise the voters.
“All I need are the good and the smart voters,” Warren told the crowd. “So we had 127 more of them on our side.”
As results came in at the Supervisor of Elections Office, Orlando was initially leading with 56.2 percent. When early and absentee votes came in, the tide shifted, and Warren held on to a small lead. The final returns showed Warren received 50.59 percent of the votes, and Orlando earned 49.41 percent.
In the city’s runoff election held last year, Ed Braddy defeated Craig Lowe for mayor by 1,251 votes.
Once in office, Warren said her first order of business will be tackling the city budget.
“I want to build bridges with leaders in the community regardless of political affiliation,” she said.
Warren received advice and support on her campaign from outgoing City Commissioner Susan Bottcher.
Bottcher, who will step down from her seat in May after losing this year’s election to Craig Carter, came Tuesday to support Warren on her win.
Bottcher said she is looking forward to sharing her experiences and insight with Warren.
“This is probably one of the best things to happen in a city election in a very long time,” she said.
Orlando and her supporters gathered at The Warehouse Restaurant & Lounge after the release of the results, which they called an unexpected loss.
“I thought we had the momentum,” Orlando said.
Despite the results, Orlando said she is proud of her campaign.
She criticized Warren and her supporters for name-calling.
“They went to the dirty tricks and the nasty campaigning to smear my reputation,” Orlando said. “They were saying I was the Tea Party candidate, and I’m still a Democrat whether they like it or not.”
As for the Commission’s future, Orlando said it’s up in the air.
“I have very grave concerns with what’s going to happen with GRU,” she said.
Warren, who will take office in May, said she hopes to unify the city.
“We won. I’m saying we won,” she told her supporters. “And I hope Gainesville will see what they won.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 4/9/2014 under the headline "Runoff ends in slim win for Warren"]