Communication Builds Our Community

Williams Defeats Alvarado by Four Votes After Recount

City Commissioner Daniel Williams has won a new three-year term after escaping a strong challenge by political newcomer Brandon Alvarado by a four vote margin, leaving Williams reelected with 42.3 percent of the votes cast. A third candidate, Crystal Higbee, took 347 votes.

Following a machine recount and a manual recount of "outstacked" ballots, the final margin of William's win was 943 to 939.

News file photo

City Commissioner Daniel Williams was elected to a new three-year term on the Lake Wales board after a four-vote win in a three-way election that saw more than 2,200 votes cast. Williams amassed 42.3 percent of the vote, giving him a win by plurality. No run-off elections are possible under the current city charter.

Alvarado conceded defeat immediately after the conclusion of the recount, and issued a statement saying "I want to congratulate Commissioner-elect Williams on his reelection and wish him the very best as he continues to serve the people of Lake Wales."

News file photo

Political newcomer Brandon Alvarado was upbeat about the future despite his four-vote loss in a hotly-contested city commission race, but called for a change in the city charter to allow for future runoff elections.

"I also want to send a huge congratulations to Commissioner-elect Gillespie on her resounding victory in the race for Seat 4," Alvarado added. He called that evidence of unhappiness among the electorate and "showed that we were not happy with the direction our city was going in."

Gillespie won easily over incumbent Commissioner Danny Krueger in the District 4 race, capturing more than 57 percent of the vote.

Alvarado's statement cited what he called "the three pillars of our campaign, responsible growth, economic prosperity, and uniting Lake Wales," and said that they "resonated with the people and the concerns that they have for the future."

Alvarado, 27, was making his first run for political office.

The News has reached out to Commissioner Williams for comment, but has not yet received a response. This story will be updated as soon as that occurs.

Alvarado's statement also reiterated a call issued Wednesday by Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson for run-off elections in the City of Lake Wales, saying "the fact that there was a very real possibility for a tie in this election and that the winner would be chosen by either the flipping of a coin or the drawing of lots highlights the need for Lake Wales to adopt runoff elections. In our modern democracy, we need to ensure that a candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, thereby providing a more representative and democratic outcome for the people of Lake Wales," confirming that "the candidate elected truly represents the will of the majority of voters."

Gibson had made a similar plea at Wednesday's Canvassing Board meeting, saying that it was important that voters reach a consensus with a majority vote.

"I urge the city commission and the citizens of Lake Wales to seriously consider adopting runoff elections in all future elections," Alvarado added.

Runoff elections are not currently provided under the current city charter. Any change would require action by the city commission, followed by a public vote. The earliest possible date for such a referendum would likely be on the November general election ballot, which is very likely to draw very heavy voter participation.

 

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