VALDOSTA – Election Day strikes again Tuesday, Dec. 3, as city residents head back to the polls to vote in runoff races for mayor of Valdosta and Valdosta City Council at-large.

The mayoral race pits Scott James Matheson against J.D. Rice, while incumbent at-large Councilman Ben Norton hopes to retain his seat from challenger Adrian Rivers.

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.

For the at-large seat, the opponent of Norton remained unknown until more than 100 provisional ballots were counted Friday evening, Nov. 8. Rivers ended up defeating Edgar "Nicky" Tooley by merely 18 votes with 22.26% of the total ballots cast.

Norton, the incumbent, received 45.95% of the vote and was also unable to avoid a runoff.

Early voting for the runoff races was held the past two weeks Nov. 18-22 and Nov. 25-27. Early voting totaled 3,140 votes during those eight days, according to number provided by the Lowndes County election board.

The numbers reflect a nearly identical sum to early voting prior to Nov. 5.

That total was 3,155 votes, but that period extended from Oct. 7-29; voters had nearly three times the amount of days to cast early ballots than the runoff early options.

Residents will have five polling options to choose from Tuesday with only the city precincts open, according to Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections. Polling locations will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The five polling locations are:

– Precinct 2: Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3501 Bemiss Road.

– Precinct 3: Northside Baptist Church, 200 E. Park Ave.

– Precinct 5: James H. Rainwater Conference Center, 1 Meeting Place.

– Precinct 6: Mildred M. Hunter Community Center, 509 S. Fry St.

– Precinct 10: Valdosta State University, University Center, entrance 2, 1203 N. Patterson St.

The official runoff election is Dec. 3. All registered voters inside the city limits are eligible to vote in the runoff, even if they did not vote in the Nov. 5 election, according to election officials.

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