Independent candidate for mayor of Tallahassee Steve Stewart lost a tight race to incumbent John Marks yesterday, who managed to push past 51 percent of the vote by the time polls closed. Stewart, whose campaign had focused on issues of transparency and accountability in city government, bolstering small businesses and addressing soaring utility rates, told The Florida Independent that his work will continue despite his loss:
We’re proud of the campaign we ran. We started with the issues and ended with the issues, and I think that the closeness of the race, that the message resonated with half of the population who voted, shows we’ll be on the radar In the near future, and we look forward to talking about issues that affect the community.
Three of the most important issues we ran on, and I hope that those who won will start to address them, are utility rates, transparency, and accountability.
We’re going to continue to push to get more things online, for a utility authority board. I have a huge stake in the future of this community, so I’m not going away. Those were huge issues we were able to bring to the forefront, and I think that the way they’re handled in the future will really determine how important our race was. If they continue to be on the radar, and get addressed in the next year and a half, then we had a huge impact. I don’t think that the mayor, or any city commissioner, can forget that almost half the people who voted in the election voted for the opponent.
Stewart’s campaign had received a number of endorsements, from the Fraternal Order of Police to former Mayor Penny Herman and current County Commissioner Bill Proctor, and won a series of straw polls held by local organizations in the months leading up to the election.