After all provisional ballots were counted, incumbent Tracy Larkin retained his District 3 Montgomery City Council seat.
Larkin beat challenger Marche Johnson by 6 votes. The final tally showed Larkin with 1,767 votes, or 50.1%, and Johnson with 1,761 votes, or 49.9%. Larkin received two more votes and Johnson received four more.
Larkin is an Army veteran who was elected to the City Council in 1999 and has served four non-consecutive terms. He was a Democratic candidate for the Alabama State House of Representatives in 2014.
Larkin was announced winner of the runoff last Tuesday, but the next day, provisional ballots became an issue. He was ahead of Johnson in the runoff by eight votes Oct. 8. Larkin received 1,765 votes while Johnson garnered 1,757. Because the race was so close, the provisional count was the deciding factor.
Provisional ballots are those cast with questions about the voter’s eligibility that must be resolved before the vote can count.
Larkin said the City Council must vote to certify the election. Johnson said the six-vote difference triggers an automatic recount.
Larkin said he was not aware of a law that would allow for an automatic recount in a municipal election, and was confident about the outcome.
“I’m relieved and humbled the people have chosen me once again,” he said.
Johnson emphasized how close the race was and said she was grateful to educate people on voting throughout her campaign.
“I’ve done everything I can do with the support of the constituents, now its up to the law to decide. The people spoke, I mean, six votes,” Johnson said as her supporters talked about how every vote counts.
City Council members make decisions on policy, proposing laws, passing codes and approving the budget. City Council members and the mayor are elected to four-year terms.
During his time serving as a city councilman, Larkin introduced an ordinance that makes texting while driving illegal and an ordinance that allows the Montgomery Police Department to address school truancy issues, to enforce state laws more aggressively.
He also introduced an ordinance twice that would allow the assessment of fees for vacant and abandoned buildings, but the ordinance did not pass either time. Currently the only requirement is that buildings be boarded up. To address the blight, Larkin promises to introduce the ordinance again.
Larkin has also pushed for more aggressive enforcement of rental business regulations and recently introduced a proposal to hold business owners more accountable for overflowing dumpsters and littered parking lots
The winner of District 3 was up in the air since votes began coming in Oct. 8. At 8:15 p.m., with two more precincts left to be counted, Johnson was in the lead with 52% of the votes. Larkin caught up with 158 more votes than Johnson from Alabama State University’s polling center and 98 more votes than Johnson from Houston Hills Community Center.
Five candidates ran for District 3 in the Aug. 27 election. Larkin had 45% of the votes with 1,359 and Marche got 25% with 767. Alabama law requires a candidate to receive 50% of the vote plus one in order to avoid a runoff.
Richard Bollinger, Brantley Lyons and Glen Pruitt Jr. were all re-elected to the City Council for the 2020 to 2024 term in the Aug. 27 election. City Council president Charles Jinright kept his seat as no one ran against him. Clay McInnis was the only newly elected member to City Council after the Aug. 27 election after Arch Lee didn’t seek reelection.
CC Calhoun won District 5 in the runoff against Phyllis Harvey-Hall with 51% of the votes. Oronde Mitchell beat Jon Dow in the race for District 6 by garnering 65% of the votes.
The City Council remains made up of four African American council members and five white male council members. Montgomery’s racial makeup is more than half African American and about 30% white.
While four white male council members kept their seats, two African American males did not. Fred Bell did not seek re-election and William Green Jr. was not re-elected to District 5.
Audrey Graham was the only African American on the City Council to keep a seat in the Aug. 27 municipal election. She filled a seat that sat vacant since May 2018 before being elected, breaking an all-male monopoly that lasted from 2011.
Of the remaining candidates that went to the runoff, two were women and four are men. Neither of the female candidates were elected in the runoff.
More: Race/gender makeup will remain disproportionate to Montgomery’s population
African American and female representation on the Montgomery City Council is disproportionate when compared to the city’s racial and gender composition for another term. The sex ratio for 2020 to 2024 term still fails to reflect the city’s male-to-female ratio. The council will be made up of seven males and two females.
According to the 2017 U.S. Census, the population of Montgomery is 52% female and 47% male.
More: Montgomery City Council runoffs: 2 of 3 races prove tight