, 23, won in a runoff with 57 percent of the vote.
ZOOM Sun file photo Andrew Gillum
, 23, who went to middle and high school in Gainesville, won a runoff election for a seat on the Tallahassee City Commission
, 23, a Florida A&M University graduate who went to middle and high school in Gainesville, won a runoff election for a seat on the Tallahassee City Commission
.Gillum captured 57 percent of the vote, winning over 33-year-old financial adviser Mayo Woodward for the vacated seat of Commissioner John Paul Bailey, who resigned with two years remaining in his four-year term to run for mayor.
"I am overjoyed about the results," Gillum
said by phone Tuesday night after learning he
won."We set out to run a campaign based on faith and the fact of the matter is, the Tallahassee voters had enough faith in me to give me the only thing I ever wanted - a chance."
In a phone conversation earlier in the day, while making the Election Day rounds of Tallahassee precincts Tuesday, Gillum
first political experience was as homeroom representative at Westwood Middle School
.The big issue then, he
said, was "diversified options in the vending machines."
"At that time it seemed something major to have Skittles, Snickers and real Doritos, not generic taco chips, in the vending machines," said Gillum, who received a political science degree last year from FAMU and now works as a field organizers for People for the American Way
, a liberal advocacy group.
"We got some diversity - Skittles and Snickers, but not the Doritos."After three terms as homeroom representative - sixth, seventh and eighth grades - Gillum went to Gainesville High School where he immediately got involved in student government and other organizations.He served in various capacities before graduating in 1998, including president of his freshman and sophomore classes, student senator in 11th grade and student body vice president his senior year.
"It seemed like second nature to me," said Gillum
, who plans eventually to go to law school at Florida State University
."It seemed a natural thing to get involved and try and make a difference."Gillum
noted with a chuckle that the Class of '98 was featured in The Sun as "The Class From Hell" for a spate of fights and other incidents during the year.He
described it as the "class of liberation, a free-thinking class" that produced many students who went on to leadership positions in college. "Gainesville has a proud track record of producing activist and involved students," said Gillum, who served a term as student body president at FAMU.
In Tallahassee, he
hopes as a commissioner to "make it an equitable community for all the folks who live here." He
said that also was his
goal at GHS
, where his
sister is a junior and one of his
three brothers is a senior.
, probably the biggest thing was having students' voices heard," he
said."We were not strangers to the (Alachua County) School Board.If there were issues related to our school, we were at the meetings speaking out."
Gillum's campaign platform for the Tallahassee City Commission
included a plank supporting student issues.In the six-way race Feb. 5 that put him into Tuesday's runoff, Gillum
received strong support from college students, who helped make the election turnout the highest in years for a city race.
The young candidate had help Tuesday from Gainesville, where most of his
family still live. His
sister skipped school Tuesday to work in his
campaign along with one brother.