Howland’s victory brings the Republican majority on the city council to 14-5.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nearly 41% of registered voters in Duval County are Democrats compared to 35% Republicans.
A statistic that apparently favors Democratic candidates. However, Nick Howland’s election victory for the At-Large Group 3 seat over Democrat Tracye Polson brings the Republican majority on the City Council to 14-5.
Howland got nearly 52% of the vote, while Polson got 48%. 20 percent of Duval County came out to vote.
“Having these elections on these weird off-cycle terms, it puts a real burden on voters to show up and vote in March when people usually think of voting in November,” said Mike Binder, professor of political science at the University of North Florida.
Binder says off-cycle elections, or elections that take place in odd years and/or not in November, tend to favor Republicans who traditionally show up to vote more.
The UNF professor concluded that the off-cycle election period negates the six percent advantage Democrats have in Duval County.
Off-cycle elections have been a mainstay of Duval County for years. Binder doesn’t see that changing any time soon.
“The people who would need to make that decision are those who were elected under the current rules. There’s a big tendency to keep things the way they worked because you were elected that way and you keep your job” , Binder said.
Howland will replace Democrat Tommy Hazouri, who died in September. Howland’s win means the Republicans increase their City Council majority lead to 14-5.
Binder says Howland could have a big impact when it comes to votes for development projects in the future. The UNF professor used the Jacksonville Jaguars Lot J proposal as an example. Lot J was a $450 million project to reinforce the area around TIAA Bank Field with entertainment, hospitality, parking and retail facilities. It was eventually rejected by the city council.
“If Tommy Hazouri wasn’t in power and Howland was the Rep at the time, Batch J would have happened. As for the supermajority that needs council votes, Nick Howland will scale with the current majority very supportive of the mayor and his politics.”