Election

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VALDOSTA — Scott James Matheson leads J.D. Rice for mayor of Valdosta but the race is too close to call.

Matheson, with 2,861 votes, currently leads Rice, with 2,738 votes, by 123 votes. 

The winner will be determined by provisional ballots.

Precincts delivered provisional ballots to the board of elections late Tuesday. The 130 provisional ballots and three mail-in ballots will be counted at 4 p.m. Friday at the board of elections office. The process will be open to the public.

Incumbent Ben Norton appears to have defeated challenger Adrian Rivers in the Valdosta City Council at-large race. 

Norton received 3,045 votes (55.50%) and defeated challenger Adrian Rivers, who received 2,441 votes (44.50%).

The five-person race for mayor narrowed to Rice and Matheson after Election Day Nov. 5. Rice received the largest share of votes at 34.84%, while Matheson edged out David Sumner by three points to finish second with 24.65%.

Since Rice did not garner 50% plus one vote, a runoff election was declared.

Matheson was pleased with his lead at press time and said he was excited for the official results to be certified Friday.

“I’ll wait until Friday when it’s certified then I’m going right to work,” Matheson said. “I’ve got committees ready to get the public transit project done and the tiny house project done. I’ve got those guys ready so when January comes, we’ll be ready to go to work.”

Rice did not concede and will wait for provisional ballots to be counted Friday.

“We’re still optimistic. Every vote has to be counted,” Rice said. “This has been a great race. The folks of Valdosta have been great, coming out for the runoff today.”

For the at-large seat, Norton’s opponent remained unknown in the Nov. 5 election until more than 100 provisional ballots were counted Nov. 8. Rivers ended up defeating Edgar “Nicky” Tooley by merely 18 votes with 22.26% of the total ballots cast.

Norton was appreciative of Valdosta voters re-electing him to serve his third full term on the Valdosta City Council.

“I want to thank the voters of Valdosta for the confidence they have for reelecting me as city councilman at-large,” Norton said. “I will continue to strive to represent everyone to the best of my abilities.”

Rivers had not officially conceded at the time but acknowledged Norton’s lead.

“I’m wishing him the best in his office,” Rivers said. “We’re still going to be around and be in the community and do what we do, but I wish him nothing but the best.”

All results are unofficial until certified by the elections office, expected this Friday. 

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