Looking to November

Williams Cox, Matlow turn attention to general election

Dianne Williams Cox is seeing the benefits of being a longtime community advocate.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

Jeremy Matlow is looking for the endorsement of his one-time opponents.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

The two candidates who emerged as front-runners in the August primary elections for city commission seats have plenty in common.

Dianne Williams Cox, who is running for Seat 5, and Seat 3 hopeful Jeremy Matlow are engaged in their communities. They’re running on small budgets. Their grass roots approach throughout their campaigns worked in their favor.

And they vowed to restore public trust, which seemingly resonated with voters on the heels of an FBI investigation that plagued city government.

All that will continue to be their mantra as they go into the November general election in runoffs against the two other top finishers in their respective races. Matlow is in the tightest race against Lisa Brown, while Williams Cox had a commanding lead over Bob Lotane going into the runoffs.

They made similar appeals to their supporters to make one last ever-import trip to the polls in November.

“People need to understand that the fight continues,” Matlow said. “We’ve got two more months of hard work. We all need to come together and do something for everybody.”

Matlow, who grew up on Tallahassee’s south side by a single mother in Section 8 housing, said he can relate to the struggles of the underserved. However, he said his mission is to level the playing field and make Tallahassee a progressive city.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “It’s shaping up as a kind of conservative-progressive showdown. I think Tallahassee is a progressive city and I think that’s the direction we’re going.”

Matlow got through last Tuesday’s primary with 38.4 percent of the votes, while Brown totaled 32.6 percent in the Seat 3 race.

The Seat 5 primary outcome was a virtual landslide for Williams Cox, who took 48.7 percent of the votes, narrowly missing a chance to clinch the seat without a runoff. Lotane got 23.4 percent.

Both Williams Cox and Matlow are counting on endorsements from their competitors to get over the hump in November. Henry Adelusi Jr., has already taken to social media to announce his backing of Williams Cox. Matlow said he had plans to meet this week with at least two of the other three candidates who didn’t make the cut to discuss their endorsements.

“We are going to work real hard to keep the voters that we had and get more voters,” Williams Cox said. “My message resonated with people. Our message is not going to change; we just have to go out there and bring in more voters.”

Williams Cox, who ran twice for state representative and once for a school board district, said she continues to campaign on restoring public trust.

“They want more say in their local government; they want transparency, accountability and ethics,” Williams Cox said she’s heard from voters. “I’ve been saying I’m in favor of that.”

Reducing crime – Tallahassee has had the highest crime rate in the state for four years – is also one of her concerns, Williams Cox said. She added that focusing on crime and the FBI investigation is imperative because mayor Andrew Gillum is being grilled on national newscasts on those issues since he’s become the Democratic candidate in the race for governor.

“People don’t want Tallahassee to look bad,” she said. “Now Tallahassee is on the national scene, no one wants to be embarrassed about their town so they want to elect people who not only care about potholes, but the image. The image has economic and social impact.”

In all of her attempts to get elected, the primary result was her best ever. The difference this time is that her reputation of being a worker for the community, she said.

“People are looking for somebody who will stand up,” she said; somebody who has a relationship with the community and has a track record.”