Nathan Rich, Staff Writer
For those of you that missed the drama that was the 2015 Mayor’s race here in Savannah, here’s a quick recap: incumbent out, Eddie DeLoach in.
The rise was quick. Within 3 weeks of announcing his candidacy, DeLoach was already polling at 29%, just 5% below incumbent Mayor Edna Jackson. The other two candidates, Louis Wilson and Murray Silver accounted for only 10% between them. From there it was uphill, with DeLoach campaigning heavily on the soaring crime rate, rampant cronyism, wasteful spending, and the lack of any strategic plan for the city.
Crime, cronyism, and wasteful spending are the most recognizable, but what exactly is a strategic vision? For DeLoach, that meant harkening back to the days of James Oglethorpe, who had immense vision and foresight ahead of his time. The plan laid out by Oglethorpe was the first planned city in the U.S., and his model was followed well into the 20th century.
DeLoach rightly noted that the city shouldn’t be flying by the seat of its pants and constantly putting out fires. DeLoach sought to bring all parties to the table, and as a team, decide what the future of Savannah would look like in 5, 10, 20 years.
On the November 3 General Election around 19,000 votes were cast with Jackson at 44%, DeLoach at 42%, Silver at 12%, and Wilson at 2%, which led to a runoff between Jackson and DeLoach.
Local elections in an off year? Abysmal. An election the week after Thanksgiving? Pack your bags. Generally speaking, one would expect a 10-15% decrease in voter turnout from a general election to runoff.
But come December 1, in the runoff, the impossible happened.
The huge demographic shift aside, DeLoach was able to not only beat the 10-15% decrease without the endorsement of the third place candidate, he also saw an INCREASE of about 4,000, a whopping 21% increase from the Nov. 3 General Election.
I had the absolute privilege of serving as the Grassroots & Communications Director for Mayor Eddie DeLoach. Grassroots is organizing the masses for a cause, the most basic form of politics. With that, I was charged with organizing volunteers and high school and college interns. Duties such as door-to-door operations, call center, event attending, sign waiving, absentee ballot operations, and handwritten postcards were delegated.
We beat the odds because we remained optimistic and cared deeply for our neighbors and city. We refused to be deterred, working hand-in-hand with gays and straights, blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, pastors and agnostics, to build a coalition across the city. One coalition with a common goal: making our city the envy of the South. Seeing that kind of unity, casting aside political affiliations and socio-economic status, is humbling in the deepest sense. We did it because we did it together.