By Robin Postell
VALDOSTA, Ga. – After a tight race and a tighter runoff, Scott James Matheson has been officially named the City of Valdosta’s new mayor.
Before 4 p.m. supporters of both Matheson and J.D. Rice were at the Lowndes County Board of Elections on North Oak Street.
Since neither had over 50% plus one vote in the General Municipal Election on November 5, a runoff was necessary on December 3. Only 16% of Valdosta’s registered voters turned out for the runoff.
Though Matheson held a 123 vote lead in the runoff, there were 130 outstanding provisional ballots that had to be counted before an official victor could be announced.
Counting began at 4 p.m. and tension was heavy during the hour.
Deb Cox, the director of the Lowndes Board of Elections, remained stalwart and as pleasant as one can be when dealing with the counting of ballots in a tight election. Rather than making a vocal announcement, the results were projected on the wall.
Everyone silently studied the numbers and muttered amongst themselves. Some erupted in discord.
Matheson had 50.85% with 2883 votes, and Rice, 49.15% and 2787 votes.
The victory wasn’t as sweet as it might’ve been had the numbers not been so close and “uncertainty” hadn’t muddied the comprehension regarding the 130 ballots 42 of which were not counted due to reasons which were not clear. There were some in attendance who stood up and spoke out.
“Blacks are 51% of the population and have never won anything, period,” Rev. Floyd Rose said. “And it’s always our fault…I don’t buy it. You all can buy it if you want to, but I don’t buy it.”
One of the votes which was not counted was Rose’s.
Rose and his wife Estella were informed shortly after 5 p.m. that the Reverend’s was one of the 42 provisional ballots which had not been counted due to an address change that had taken place in May 2018.
“My address was changed and my vote counted,” Estella said. “But my husband’s, for whatever reason, didn’t change from Foxborough to our present address and it was not counted…I’m through…I just want to go to ‘The Nutcracker.’ I hope I’m not late.”
Welcome, Scott James Matheson as Valdosta’s newest mayor. “I’m just going to go be with my friends and family,” Matheson said humbly. “Just somewhere quiet and private.”