One of the three challengers to incumbent Leon County Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi has forced him into a runoff for his at-large seat in November. Political newcomer Mary Ann Lindley managed to keep Akinyemi from winning the 50 percent of the vote he’d need to run unopposed.
Lindley got just over a quarter of the vote in Tuesday’s Leon Co. primary, edging out opponents Fred Varn and Emily Fritz, who came in with 24 percent and 18 percent, respectively. All three came in behind incumbent Akinyemi, who got just under a third of the vote.
Lindley is a former Tallahassee Democrat reporter who quit her job in December to start campaigning for the county commission seat full time. Lindley says, although she can’t put her finger on anything particularly wrong with Akinyemi’s leadership, she wants a chance to serve the community where she’s lived for 30 years.
"I know the issues very well. I know a broad range of the community. I listen, and I know I’m a good problem solver with a sense of urgency," she says. "So I thought I had a lot to bring to the campaign. And also, I thought people deserve to have a good choice.”
Akinyemi has served on the commission since 2008. On Tuesday, he was joined by Tallahassee City Commissioner Nancy Miller and members of the mayor’s office as he watched election returns come in.
He says, he looks forward to facing Lindley, whom he has considered a good friend for a long time.
“I look forward to a spirited debate on the issues and who is most competent and equipped to continue to help the people of Leon County move us forward," he says.
Now he and Lindley must continue campaigning and fundraising as they look ahead to November. Lindley says her campaign manager has a list of people for her to call asking for contributions.
“Those of you out there who might be on the list, if the phone rings, pick up please," she says.
And Akinyemi says, no matter what happens in the election, he hopes his friendship with his opponent continues.