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Lightsey, Gillum, Marks win run-off

By Marlon A. Walker
On February 26, 2003

Local attorney John Marks cruised into his first term as the second leadership Mayor of Tallahassee, commanding 67 percent of the votes compared to 33 percent by his challenger, City Commissioner John Paul Bailey.

His win makes him Tallahassee's first black leadership Mayor.

"I'm euphoric right now," Marks said. "We ran a proactive, progressive and positive race. It's a great win."

Favorites Andrew Gillum and incumbent Debbie Lightsey also commanded a majority of the votes for seats 2 and 3, respectively.

"It's about faith," said Gillum, a senior political science student from Gainesville. "(The Citizens) have faith in the fact that I deserved a chance and they gave me that chance today."

Gillum's 57 percent of the votes was enough to breeze into seat 2 of the city commission. His opponent, Morgan Stanley Financial Adviser Mayo Woodward, received 43 percent of the votes. The entire race was overshadowed by the fact that Gillum, 23, is a student at FAMU. Critics speculated his decisions and views would be clouded by those factors.

"I hope to create a seamless Tallahassee," he said. "By that I mean it shouldn't matter whatever side you live on... Tallahassee should be fair to everyone."

"But we live in Tallahassee and what happens here affects us."

Incumbent Debbie Lightsey narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of professor Anthony "Dr. V" Viegbesie, who lost the race by less than 2,000 votes. Lightsey, who retaind her seat with 53 percent of the vote to Viegbesie's 47 percent, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Supporters had high hopes for what both Marks and Gillum will do in office.

"He ran such a good campaign on the good of Tallahassee," said Joshua Hicks, 19, who was also in the running for commission seat 2 before the primary resulted in a run-off. "He's gonna make a hell of a commissioner."

Sen. Al Lawson, who showed up to John Marks' victory party, said he thinks Marks is ready for the challenge running the city will offer him.

"John's the best qualified candidate," Lawson said. "It was his time."

"He's gonna do a great job for the city of Tallahassee."

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