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Monday, September 27, 2021
<p>District 1 winner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls celebrates at the Supervisor of Elections Office downtown after election results came in Tuesday night.</p>

District 1 winner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls celebrates at the Supervisor of Elections Office downtown after election results came in Tuesday night.

The votes arrived in bursts of tens, twenties, hundreds. One by one, candidates rolled into the Supervisor of Elections office.

Almost every eye was on the projection screen until a single red bar slid higher than the rest.

Then a future commissioner smiled.

Yvonne Hinson-Rawls was elected to the District 1 seat of the Gainesville City Commission on Tuesday with 1,126 votes — 54.29 percent of the total District 1 votes.

However, two candidates won't be able to relax just yet.

The at-large 1 seat will go to a runoff because none of the eight candidates was able to secure a majority of the votes.

Lauren Poe, Santa Fe College associate professor and former Gainesville city commissioner, and Nathan Skop, lawyer and former Florida Public Service commissioner, will face off in a Feb. 28 runoff election. They had the highest number of votes, with Poe securing 4,402 votes and Skop earning 2,944 votes.

A total of 24,864 people voted — about 25 percent of registered voters.

This year's election turnout was higher than last year's city elections, when 14.87 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Hinson-Rawls threw her hands in the air and yelled, "Thank you! Thank you!" as she embraced supporters.

Although she'll take a short break, she said she has been researching some of the issues from her platform.

"I want to put them into some real plans for moving forward," Hinson-Rawls said. "I want to be able to step in, day one, and start making results."

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Ray Washington, a Gainesville lawyer, came in second in the District 1 race and earned 479 votes. He said he plans to support Skop in the runoff. In the meantime, he'll go back to work.

Armando Grundy, an Army veteran, came in third with 469 votes.

Skop and Poe went head-to-head in debates and forums throughout the election cycle. Both said they plan to run a positive runoff campaign.

Poe said he's elated he made it this far.

"To come in first place by a pretty wide margin shows that our positive, forward-looking message really resonated with voters," he said.

Although he is exhausted, Poe said he and his campaign staff are determined to run a strong race.

"It's like winning the AFC-NFC championship," he said. "You get to enjoy it for one night, but then you have to get ready for the Super Bowl."

Nathan Skop said he's excited for what the next month will bring. He said he plans to win the runoff election by securing the support of his former opponents who ran on similar platforms of fiscal responsibility and government openness.

"This is the first step toward bringing change and representative government back to Gainesville," Skop said. "The runoff elections will be a referendum on change versus the status quo on the current commission."

District 1 winner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls celebrates at the Supervisor of Elections Office downtown after election results came in Tuesday night.

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