Update: Withdrawal Makes Gillum Mayor-Elect, Focus Shifts To Governing.

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By Andy Alcock

Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum officially became
mayor-elect Wednesday.

Gillum won Tuesday's primary, but was slated to face qualified write-in candidate Evin Matthews on the November ballot.

According to Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho, Matthews withdrew from the race late Wednesday afternoon.

As a result, Gillum is now mayor-elect and Sanchez says the race won't appear on the November ballot.

With the new city commission now set, the focus shifts to governing.

Commissioner-elect Curtis Richardson says his top priority is public safety.

"What we can do to bolster our police department, give them the necessary resources they need," Richardson said.

"For sure, we're going to add some police officers, at least six," said newly re-elected Commissioner Nancy Miller. "We're going to find the money to do that," she said.

Richardson also says he favors more investment in the city's south side and an independent, appointed ethics officer.

It's a position both Miller and Commissioner Andrew Gillum voted against.

Gillum says, even if there's disagreement, the new commission should be collegial.

"Part of my job is to make sure the fvie of us coalesce and we're able to move the community forward," Gillum said.

Deer Lake Middle School teacher Alva Striplin is the only Leon County candidate to beat an incumbent.

In her new role as a school board member, she wants to see a non-elected teacher appointed as a liaison to the board.

"We need to focus on teacher's salaries," Striplin said. "I've been a big voice for teachers, have said we're not going to attract the best, we're not going to retain the best unless we're showing them that they're worth something," she said.

We did ask Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons if he'd reached out to Striplin because he held a fundraiser for her opponent.

Pons said he did reach her after class Wednesday and looks forward to working with her.

Tallahassee will have a new mayor for the first time in twelve years.

In all but a done deal, Commissioner Andrew Gillum will be the new mayor.

Gillum does have a qualified write in candidate opponent in the November election, Evin Matthews.

A write in candidate has never won a race in Leon County.

But technically, Gillum won't be mayor-elect until after the November election.

What he did do Tuesday was easily capture the mayoral primary.

Gillum, who's been campaigning for about the past year, won roughly three quarters of the vote over two opponents who qualified the last day and had little funding.

Tuesday night in downtown Tallahassee speaking to his supporters, Gillum became emotional talking about his mother who was part of the crowd.

"She did everything she could to provide for us and we're all benefiting from it," he said.

Two other seats on the city commission were also up for grabs Tuesday.

In the seat two race, an open seat Gillum vacated to run for mayor, former state lawmaker Curtis Richardson captured more than half the vote.

As a result, he's the winner and will be the only new face on the commission.

"I think the difference was the experience I brought to the race, the background of commitment and dedication that I've shown to the community," Richardson said.

In the seat 3 race, incumbent Nancy Miller won re-election over newspaper publisher Steve Stewart.

"The vote, the turnout for Commissioner Gillum, the fact that Commissioner Ziffer didn't have an opponent, all these things work together to lead me to believe that people really do have confidence in what we're doing," Miller said.

While the city commission votes on key policy issues for Tallahassee, City Manager Anita Favors Thompson runs the city on a day to day basis.

After 17 years, she says she'll serve one more year to help the new mayor get started and then retire.

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