Ocala election COVID-19 changes, City council seat remains vacant

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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB)-- Ocala voters are hoping the fourth time is the charm.

For the fourth time now, Ocala residents are voting today to hopefully once and for all, fill the open city council seat for district two, but they're doing so with some changes.

Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox began preparing for today's run-off in March.

Just over 3,000 residents sent in their vote by mail ballots for this election.

Keeping COVID-19 in mind, Wilcox said he's had to think about spreading out the number of available voting booths at polling places, as well as having personal protective equipment ready for poll workers.

"There's a whole new realm to conducting an election that, I don't know that all of it will maintain forever but there's a lot of these things that are now in our thinking process that I think probably will stay with us from this point forward,” Marion County Supervisor of Elections, Wesley Wilcox said.

An election for the district two seat was first held in September, but through this eight-month process a new council member has yet to be elected.

So now its down to voters choosing either Ire Bethea or Lonnie Hooks to finally fill the seat.

City officials said that whoever is elected will take office at the next city council meeting, which is June 2.

The person that will take office will not serve a full four-year term and will be up for re-election in november 2023.