Election

Valdosta’s Mayoral Winner Named After Provisional Ballots Counted

Scott James Matheson will replace outgoing Mayor John Gayle, who didn't seek another term.
Scott James Matheson will replace outgoing Mayor John Gayle, who didn't seek another term.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press file
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A south Georgia city has a new mayor after officials counted provisional ballots.

Radio station owner Scott James Matheson won the top electoral position in Valdosta, beating former fire chief J.D. Rice by 96 votes.

The Valdosta Daily Times reports the race was settled Friday after the Lowndes County Board of Elections ruled that 88 of 130 provisional ballots were eligible to be counted.

The outcome after Tuesday’s runoff had been uncertain, with Matheson holding a narrow lead over Rice, but with enough provisional ballots that Rice still had a chance of winning.

After the provisional ballots were counted, officials certified the election, with Matheson getting 2,883 votes to Rice’s 2,787. The margin is beyond one-half of 1 %, meaning it’s wide enough that Rice cannot request a recount under state law.

Matheson will replace outgoing Mayor John Gayle, who didn’t seek another term. Five candidates ran in the Nov. 5 general election, with Matheson and Rice advancing to a runoff after no candidate won a majority.

Matheson pledged to reach out to his defeated opponent

“J. D. and I got to meet in this parking lot two days ago and remember how good of friends we were, so we’ll be fine,” he said. “I hope everybody else will.”

“I just want to decompress after this long run and enjoy family and enjoy the fact we’re going to move this town forward for the next four years.

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