Councilwoman Marilyn Strickland expressed cautious optimism this evening after learning she’d widened her lead over architect Jim Merritt.
“It’s great news,” Strickland told me a few minutes ago. “From what I understand, there are still about 10,000 votes to be counted. We remain optimistic, but this is obviously great news.”
Strickland’s lead grew by 252 after the Thursday evening ballot drop. In all, she now leads by 369 votes — or nearly 1.6 percent of total ballots cast.
“It’s better to be on the side of building a lead than to be playing catch-up,” Strickland said. “But with still 10,000 votes to count, we’ll relax when all the votes are counted.”
Though disappointed with Thursday’s results, Merritt said that overall, he remains confident.
“We just got to be optimistic,” Merritt told me in a phone call just after the results came in. “We still have a long road to go here. We’re going to stay the course.”
“Of course, we were hoping for a little different pace tonight, but we don’t know where these (votes) came from either,” he said. “From what we’re told, they’re just at the half way point. There are still a lot (of ballots) out there. So we’re still optimistic.”
In the last mayoral race in 2005, more than 39,000 votes were tallied. If this year’s ballot totals rival the 2005 totals, more than 15,000 ballots would remain to be counted.