Ire Bethea fills vacant District 2 seat after a several month election process

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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB)-- The Ocala City Council can take five once more. Five city council members voting, that is. 

After several months, Ire Bethea was elected this week to take over the long vacant district two seat.

Bethea lead the polls, winning the election with 65 percent of the vote.

"I appreciate this opportunity. I am very humbled by this opportunity, and I am who I say I am and we are going to work diligently again to make this a very good place to live, work and play,” he said.

The long journey began on September 17, 2019 where the first initial election was held to decide the District 2 council member.

On November 19, 2019 the first run-off election had to be held as the initial winner Tyrone Oliver was disqualified from taking the position due to 30-year-old felony drug charges on his record.

A special election was then held on March 17th, 2020, between Ire Bethea, Lonnie Hooks, and Reginald Landers to try and once again determine who would take the vacant council seat.

However none of the candidates received 50 percent of the vote so this week’s run-off took place.

But Bethea started this journey even before the first election he said, as it takes some time to prepare as a candidate.

But during these past several months, Bethea said it hasn't been time wasted.

"We have done a lot of things, we canvassed neighborhoods, we stood out and did signs, we did many many forums, we talked to everybody that we could to get a better understanding of how all of these things come into play and how they are all interwoven that makes the city Ocala,” Bethea said.

Now he said it's time to make Ocala a better place.

"We want our young adults to come back home once they finish school, we want the right type of businesses to come into our community, we want to make our gateways beautiful, we want to be a partner with our school system, but we still want to keep that good small town feeling,” he said.

The Canvassing Board will certify the election Friday at 5pm.

Bethea will be sworn into his new position at the next city council meeting on June 2.