Jeff Bergosh fended off three Republican challengers to retain his seat as the District 1 Escambia County commissioner.
With all 14 of his precincts reporting, Bergosh took 5,446 votes (nearly 39%) in one of the most crowded fields on the ballot.
With no Democratic challenger in the wings for the Nov. 3 general election, Bergosh’s win Tuesday night means he will move on to a second term as commissioner.
“First, I congratulate my opponents,” Bergosh said. “What you witnessed in this election was a clean, campaign-issues focused, and not about personalities and not about attacks. All the men that I ran against — Mr. Crowder, Mr. Casey, Mr Owens — they ran a clean race, and so I’m very thankful for that.” Bergosh said.
Jesse Casey, in his third straight campaign for the seat, earned 4,368 votes (31%). Political newcomers Jonathan Owens and Jimmie Trotter rounded out the field with 3,168 votes (22%) and 1,101 votes (8%) respectively.
In the run-up to the election, Bergosh emphasized his experience — which includes 10 years on the Escambia County School Board — his accessibility to constituents and his 34-point plan for addressing issues such as infrastructure, economic development and community growth.
Bergosh out-raised his closest cash competitor, Casey, by $35,000 and outspent him by $40,000.
Casey said that between him and Bergosh, they took about 70% percent of the vote, and that he and Bergosh had already discussed finding ways to unite the ideas that each of their bases supported.
“Maybe we can figure out how District 1 can can reap those benefits by taking that 39% and that 31%, pull them together and make things happen,” Casey said. “It doesn’t matter who does it or who takes credit, as long as the people in the district reap the benefits.”
Owens, said after the race he was happy with his campaign and grateful for all his supporters, and he took the results in stride.
“Well, we ran a good clean race in District 1, but folks in District 1 were not behind what we were talking about,” Owens said. “Commissioner Bergosh won hands down, so that’s a representation that District 1 what’s to have, and that’s it.”
Trotter, the lone Black candidate in the group, expressed concerns that people of color in most Escambia County districts have no chance of getting a person who truly represents them into office because of the way district lines are drawn.
He said he would continue working to address the issue going forward, saying, “we’ve got to do something different in order to make sure minorities get some representation.”
District 1 encompasses areas like Beulah, Bellview and Myrtle Grove and is the fastest growing part of the county.
Bergosh said he pushed hard to help realize many important projects for the district and the county, including the district’s first public library, the four-lane project on Nine Mile Road and the construction of the new county jail. However, he noted there were still many challenges ahead, not least among them COVID-19.
“There are a lot of big decisions coming, and I think the voters probably realized having some experience and having some consistency, someone who’s steady, that that’s important. I think that’s probably part of the reason why they put me back in the office. I’m very, very grateful that they did.
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Kevin Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8527.