They’re familiar with each other.
Four years ago, Ire J. Bethea Sr. and Reginald E. Landers Jr. competed for the Ocala City Council District 2 seat, with Bethea victorious.
Tuesday’s rematch featured Bethea, the incumbent, and Landers, the challenger. Bethea easily won re-election, taking 67.8% percent of the vote.
“The election is over and it’s back to work,” Bethea said in the parking lot of New St. John Baptist Church in Ocala, where his supporters gathered Tuesday night.
As for the next four years, Bethea, former city council president, said he’s going to continue working hard for the people and the city because Ocala is a great place to work, play and prosper.
By phone, Landers said “the people have spoken” and “I wish Mr. Bethea well.”
When the first results were published on the Supervisor of Elections Office website, Bethea jumped to an early lead, with 1,420 votes (67.94%) to Landers’ 670 votes (32.06%.)
Bethea never looked back. He maintained a hefty lead as more precinct reports came in through the evening.
When all 16 precincts were counted, 2,860 ballots were tallied. That’s 7.57% of the eligible voters for this race.
The only contested race
Bethea took over from Mary Sue Rich, the first Black woman to serve on the city council. She was the District 2 city council representative for 24 years, and the longest-serving council member.
City council races are nonpartisan. Council members serve four-year terms and are paid $200 per month.
This was the lone election on the ballot. The races for mayor and the District 4 council seat were wrapped up during qualifying week when no one challenged Ben Marciano for mayor or incumbent Kristen Dreyer for council. Mayor Kent Guinn has decided not to run for re-election after 12 years.
Qualifying:Ocala election: No races for mayor or City Council District 4; two-man race in District 2
Supervisor of Elections Office records show there were 37,779 active voters on the rolls who were eligible to vote in the District 2 council race. In the three days of early voting, 59 people went to the polls. At least 1,900 voted by mail.
Bethea raised $19,980 and spent $7,060.35. Landers received $11,000 in campaign contributions and spent $8,730.40, according to records on file at the elections office.
Contact Austin L. Miller at email@example.com or @almillerosb