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Republican Mayor wins convincingly in NYC
but Democrats perform well in other US cities
23 June 2005: On Tuesday, 8 November 2005, mayoral elections took place in a number of major US cities, including New York, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, Pittsburgh and San Diego. The election in Miami has been postponed for one week because of the damage caused by Hurricane Wilma. Incumbent mayors won easy victories in New York City, Atlanta, Boston and Houston but failed to be re-elected in St Paul and Cleveland. Atlanta’s Shirley Franklin and Houston’s Bill White both received more than 90 per cent of the vote.
New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg easily won re-election by beating his Democrat rival Fernando Ferrer by a margin of 20 per cent in Tuesday’s (8 November) mayoral election. Mr Bloomberg, a billionaire, who spent more than US$70 million on his own campaign, received 58 per cent of the vote, while Mr Ferrer was supported by 38 per cent of those voting. The incumbent Mayor was victorious in all but one of New York’s five boroughs. In Manhattan he won 61 per cent of the vote, in Queens 64 per cent, in Brooklyn 58 per cent and in Staten Island a huge 77 per cent. Only in the Bronx, a borough with a large black population, did Mr Ferrer come on top with 59 per cent of the vote.
Michael Bloomberg’s win has been the fourth straight Republican victory over a Democrat rival. By the time of the next mayoral election in 2009, the Democrats will have been out of New York City Hall for 16 years. However, the Democrats did much better in other NYC local races. Their candidates for borough presidents were successful in all boroughs apart from Staten Island, while incumbent Democrats were re-elected for the posts of Public Advocate and City Comptroller.
Mayor Bloomberg’s victory margin is higher than those achieved by Rudolph Guiliani (16%) in 1997 and Fiorello La Guardia (19%) in 1937. Mr Ferrer’s vote was the lowest for any Democrat candidate for NYC Mayor since 1917.
In Detroit both the incumbent Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and his challenger Freman Hendrix both Democrats - initially both claimed victory but as the count proceeded it became clear that Mayor Kilpatrick had come back from the political dead ton win a second term in office. Only three months ago most commentators declared his political career as over after he was the first Detroit incumbent mayor to come second in a primary. Pre-election opinion polls all predicted a win for Mr Hendrix. However, the Mayor had the last laugh gaining 53 per cent of vote.
The biggest upset of the election night incurred in St Paul, Minnesota, where the Democrat incumbent Mayor Randy Kelly was soundly defeated by his fellow-Democrat rival Chris Coleman. Mr Coleman received some 70 per cent of the vote to Mr Kelly’s 30 per cent. The downfall of Mr Kelly started when he endorsed President Bush during the 2004 presidential election. A poll conducted before by the University of Minnesota found that more than half of voters said that Mr Kelly’s endorsement would influence their vote with most of them adding that they would support the Mayor’s challenger Chris Coleman.
In St Paul’s neighbouring city Minneapolis, Mayor R T Rybak won a second term in office with 61.5 percent of the vote, defeating fellow Democrat Peter McLaughlin. In a pre-election poll most voters agreed that under Mayor Rybak the city was moving in the right direction, stressing that he had done a lot for economic development. During the campaign his rival accused the Mayor of being soft on crime.
Atlanta’s first female Mayor, the popular Democrat Shirley Franklin, was re-elected with more than 90 per cent of the vote. However, in a non-partisan race she was only opposed by three little-known challengers. Four years ago she became Atlanta’s first woman mayor and the first African-American women to become mayor of a major city in the south of the US. Both in 2004 and 2005, Ms Franklin was short-listed for the World Mayor Award.
Another incumbent mayor who won re-election to a second term with more than 90 per cent of the vote was Houston’s Bill White. Mr White, a Democrat who never held elected office before becoming Mayor, promised in his victory speech that the city’s economy and traffic problems would be his main priorities in his second term. He also promised to build hundreds of affordable houses in Houston’s poorer neighbourhoods.
Despite a vigorous campaign by his challenger, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino was re-elected to a fourth term. His opponent, Councillor Maura Hennigan, accused the Mayor of neglecting the city’s schools and doing too little against rising urban crime.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, mayoral election was contested by two Democrats, state senator Mark Mallory and councillor David Pepper. The race was won by Mr Mallory, the city’s first elected black mayor. Four years ago race riots caused considerable damage in Cincinnati.
In Cleveland, also in Ohio, the city’s first woman mayor Jane Campbell suffered defeat on the hands of City Council President Frank Jackson. Mr Jackson, a Democrat like the outgoing Mayor and her former ally, won the election on 55 per cent of the vote.
In San Diego’s second mayoral election in 12 months, the Republican former police chief Jerry Sanders outpolled the Democrat Councillor Donna Frye by 54 to 46 per cent of the vote. In November 2004, the financially-troubled city re-elected Dick Murphy as mayor. However in July 2005, Dick Murphy left office, only seven months into his second term, saying the city needed a new start. A few days later, the deputy mayor and a city councilman resigned after they were convicted of taking illegal payments from the owner of a local strip club. In the 2004 election, Ms Frye, a surf shop owner, was narrowly lost to former Mayor Murphy on a controversial technicality.
Seattle’s Democrat Mayor Greg Nickels, who won re-election with a 29-per-cent margin, said in his acceptance speech that he would continue his policies of combining development with sustainability. He promised taller skyscrapers, an underground car tunnel and a new city centre tram line.
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, easily won a second termin office in an election delayed by two weeks because of Hurricane Wilma. The Mayor won 65 per cent of votes, with his nearest challenger, Enrique Santos, on 26 per cent. Speaking after the results, Mayor Diaz noted that he won support across the entire city. "That's something I'm very proud of," he said. "This is a city that is about to become one of the premier cities in the US." Turnout, however, was disappointingly low, with only 18 per cent of eligible voters going to the polls.
Manny Diaz, a registered independent, had been the favourite to win re-election. During his first term, both the number of people out of work and the number of crimes committed dropped. The Mayor has also been credited with introducing an efficient management system.
Other election news
• In Charlotte (NC) Republican Mayor Pat McCroy wins sixth term.
• Buffalo (NY) elects first black mayor.
• Democrat Bob O’Connor elected Mayor of Pittsburgh with 66 per cent of vote.
• Former police chief Robert Duffy elected Mayor of Rochester (NY)
• Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner ousts incumbent Mayor in Toledo (OH)
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