June 20, 2020 – UPDATED: One of the races with the largest list of candidates in the June 9 Democratic Primary was the race in the 5th District seat for the Chatham County Commission. The Chatham County Board of Elections final released the June 9 election results last night, certifying the election.
The results details provide an interesting insight, also, into how important the use of absentee ballots was for the two candidates who now move to a run-off election on August 11.
Tanya Milton, long time editor of The Savannah Tribune, and a current member of the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) came in first out of a field of five candidates, receiving 1,531 votes out of the 5,212 votes cast in the Democratic Primary for the seat. Almost 46% of her vote was cast by absentee ballot (see chart below) though she garnered only 29% of the total vote against incumbent Tabitha A. Odell, only 156 votes behind her. They will face each other in a run-off election in August.
Her husband, Judge Harris Odell Jr. was also re-elected to serve on the Recorder’s Court. He had no opponent in that non-partisan race.
Yusef Shabazz, received 1, 148 votes, and almost equaled Milton’s vote on election day, but fell well-short of votes cast by absentee, costing him a run-off spot. Florence Glover received 681 votes; and Angela Washington received 477 votes.
The District is diverse, and faces a major decision in the upcoming months on the outcome of the use of the 60 acres owned by the City of Savannah within the District, the property that for decades was the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds.
The Savannah City Council purchased the land in 2016, the largest remaining parcel north of DeRenne Avenue within the city limits. In 2017, State Rep. J. Craig Gordon came forward with a proposal to build a soundstage commercial business on the property, versus affordable housing and a major park and recreational area which had been publicly envisioned by the City Council when the purchase was announced.
Gordon’s proposal did not garner support back in 2017, but he’s back this year with a new proposal, one that is supported by City Alderwoman Dr. Estella Shabazz. Yusef Shabazz, her husband, is a former County Commissioner, challenging Tabitha A. Odell to get his seat back.
Several Black political leaders said that Shabazz was hampered by the same thing that contributed to Alderman John Hall’s defeat last November to Linda Wilder Bryan - that John and Connie Hall were dominating Eastside Savannah politics and the voters wanted a change. Connie Hall is a member of Chatham County Board of Education. She had no challenger in last week’s contest and will serve for another four years.
In an interview Saturday, Ms. Washington stated that she does not intend to endorse in the run-off. She is a 28-year resident of the portion of District 5 that is in Unincorporated Chatham, outside the city limits.
Reached on Sunday, Flo Williams stated that she is endorsing Tanya Milton.