Realtor and political newcomer Helen Moore eked out a win over incumbent Fred Fraize for Seat 3 on the Venice City Council, according to unofficial results.
The winning margin was 57 votes. A final tally will not be available for another week as military and other votes by mail are tabulated. Florida law provides for an automatic recount is 0.5 percent or less of the number of votes cast.
Incumbent Rich Cautero breezed to a second term, filling Seat 2 unchallenged.
Moore, who sat on the city Planning Commission for the past five years, received 6,435 votes, or 50.22 percent of the vote, over incumbent Fraize, who received 6,378 votes, or 49.78 percent.
Moore won six of nine precincts.
In 2015, Fraize won his first election for a three-year term on Council by only 62 votes.
Fraize ran a very low-key campaign — with few signs, few campaign donors, practically no campaign literature to speak of, relying largely on candidate forums.
At a celebratory gathering election night, Moore thanked a group of about 60 at Sharky’s on the Pier. It was a who’s who of Venice leaders, including the mayor, past Council members, and three of Moore’s fellow Planning Commissioners.
When initial early voting numbers first came out Tuesday evening, Fraize was in the lead by around 70 votes and there was an air of concern from Moore’s supporters.
After 100 percent of precincts results were updated, Moore had turned the tables. There were spontaneous hoots and hollers, a lot of hugging and a lot more people saying “wow” at just how close the race turned out.
“I’m just glad I didn’t disappoint you tonight,” Moore told the crowd. “And I won’t disappoint you while serving on Council.”
“Tomorrow begins a new election season and we need to win that,” Moore said, referring to next year’s election in which three Council seats will be open.
It was deja vu for Cautero, who won his first term three years ago also unchallenged.
Still, Cautero felt it was necessary to come to all the campaign forums and speak before voters, if for no other reason than to assure them he wasn’t taking their potential votes for granted.
He introduced himself at each event, gave his take on the top three issues facing the city (fiscal management, growth management and red tide) and asked for their continued input into city government activities.