HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The race for the District 1 Huntsville City Council seat long held by Richard Showers heated up following the August win in the first round of voting by newcomer Devyn Keith.
Keith got 542 votes more than Showers, who has been on the council since 1988.
The two candidates will be in a runoff Oct. 4. The third-place finisher in the Aug. 23 District 1 race, Michelda Johnson, got 1,073 votes.
Her voters – if they return to the polls in October – could provide a winning margin for either candidate in the runoff. Almost immediately after the polls closed in August, questions began about who Johnson would endorse in the runoff.
“My phone started ringing at midnight,” Johnson told WHNT News 19. “To say, ‘who will you endorse?’ Those phone calls have not stopped. The encouragement has not stopped. The questions have not stopped.”
Both candidates are aware of Johnson’s voting bloc.
Showers praised Johnson for running a clean campaign and offered his own endorsement of her, as his successor, in 2020.
“Michelda Johnson, when I’m at the end of this term, I certainly can support her to continue to lead District 1 forward,” Showers said.
Showers received 29 percent of the votes cast in the municipal election in August. Keith has argued that shows 70 percent of the voters, including Johnson’s supporters want change in the district.
Keith said following the August vote that he’d reach out to the other candidates, including Johnson, Robert Hewlett and Peter Proctor. Hewlett received 108 votes and Proctor got 65 votes.
“We truly are going to take those individuals who ran against Mr. Showers as well, take a lot of the wisdom they have from their perspectives, mix it in our own plan,” Keith said last month. “So that we have a conglomerate. So that when we come back to the polls Oct. 4, they’re all voting for a new plan and change in north Huntsville.”
Johnson said both candidates have strengths.
“Mr. Keith has some great ideas,” she said. “Some great concepts. That, if implemented I think will be an enhancement. But by the same token, we’ve got Dr. Showers who has served us for 28 years.”
Johnson said she’s not ready to offer an endorsement.
“I am not going to endorse a candidate. I have spent some really talking to family, talking to my core team, and definitely in prayer to see and hope that I make the right decisions,” she said.
She stressed voters need to take time and meet the candidates, review their records and push for details.
“And make sure that you understand what your candidate stands for, what they can and cannot do, the limitations as well as the possibilities,” she said.
“This is a pivotal election, for the constituents of District 1,” she said. “It’s very pivotal. We’ve got to be very careful that we’re making the right decision.”
Johnson said she knows who she’s going to vote for and doesn’t expect to make an endorsement. But, she left that door slightly open.
“Not yet. Maybe as this goes on, I might,” she said. “As we get closer to October 4th, I might. But right now, what I’ve encouraged people to do, is really look within and say, Ok, we need change. Is this the change that we need? Is this the change that moves us forward?”