The voter precincts that include the communities of Parramore and College Park are dominating early returns in the Orlando City Council elections today.
Those are the home precincts for incumbent Orlando City Commissioners Regina Hill and Robert Stuart, respectively, though their opponents have challenged their voting records on issues affecting residents and businesses of those two communities.
Through 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, more than 20 percent of voters in Precinct 3401, including the community of largely white, college-educated professionals in College Park, had cast ballots by mail, in early voting or at the precinct polling stations during the first three and a half hours of election day balloting. And in Precinct 5101, more than 15 percent of voters of the largely African-American single-family community of Parramore adjacent to downtown, had cast votes, according to data posted by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.
Hill faces six challengers, Ericka Dunlap, Cynthia Harris, Betty Gelzer, Sarah Elbadri, Jibreel Ali, and Ondria James for the District 5 seat on Orlando City Council. If no one gets a majority of votes, a runoff election between the top two finishers will be held Dec. 5. Several have questioned Hill’s policies in Parramore, with some contending she is not doing enough to fight gentrification in the historic community, and some arguing that she has not prepared for the changes coming because of the developments of Creative Village and the sports venues district.
Overall, 1,556 votes had been cast in District 5 by 10:30 a.m., about 7 percent of the total registered voters in the district.
In the District 3 race, Stuart, a three-term incumbent, faces Asima Azam who has criticized his support for a major high-rise development in the middle of College Park.
Overall, 4,014 votes had been cast in District 3 by 10:30 a.m., about 12.9 percent turnout. That includes nearly 1,200 voters who went to the polling station Tuesday morning.
In the third city race, incumbent City Commissioner Jim Gray faces challenger Tom Keen, and Sunshine Grund in a District 1 election that has drawn few voters so far.
Overall, 2,027 votes had been cast in District 1 by 10:30 a.m., about 5.9 percent of the total registered voters.
The elections and the offices are non-partisan. Yet the District 1 race has taken on clear partisan overtones, with Republican Gray and Democrat Keen both getting party support. Grund is an independent.
Party affiliations for voters are available through the Orange County Supervisor of Elections only for those who have voted with mail-in or early ballots, and only on a city-wide basis. They show that both the Democrats and the Republicans are turning out about the same, about 7 points better, each, than their proportions of the voter registration base for the three precincts combined, with few independent voters turning out early or voting by mail. About 53 percent of the early or mail-in votes that came in were from Democrats, and 31 percent from Republicans. In vote registration, Democrats make up about 46 percent, and Republicans 24 percent. Independent voters make up 30 percent of the voter registration for the three precincts, but only 15 percent of those who voted early or with mail-in ballots.
Overall, 7,597 votes had been cast in the three city district elections through 10:30 a.m., for a turnout of about 8.7 percent by that point.