Guinn took 65.93% of the vote in the citywide election defeating Manal Fakhoury by a vote of 6,497 to 3,358, according to unofficial results from the Marion County Supervisor of Elections Office.
“I am ecstatic. This was a tough race,” Guinn said. “This is a great win for the city. We kept with the message that we wanted to preserve our safety and quality of life. The people listened.”
Tuesday’s elections drew a record 25.6% voter turnout. A total of 9,932 votes were cast, including 4,801 mail-in ballots.
Guinn’s margin of victory was larger than his last challenge in 2019 when he defeated Barbara Fitos by a margin of 59.1% to 40.9%.
Fakhoury did not immediately return calls for comment on Tuesday.
This year’s mayoral race was also one the most expensive in recent history, with almost $230,000 raised by the two candidates. Since 2013, contributions to the mayor’s race had not gone much over the $60,000 mark. In 2013, Guinn raised only $100, and that from himself, as he ran unopposed, according to supervisor of elections records.Guinn said the amount of money raised in this campaign was “ridiculous.”
“I didn’t raise that kind of money when I ran for U.S. Congress,” Guinn said, referring to his short-lived 2020 candidacy.
First elected Ocala mayor in 2011, Guinn has also served as a city council member.
Guinn previously admitted that he weighed the decision to seek a sixth term.
It’s been a tough year for the 66-year-old. He battled a serious case of COVID-19 in January.
Guinn has previously been public about his disdain for Fakhoury’s ties to groups reportedly sympathetic to recognized terrorist organizations. Fakhoury has repeatedly taken an anti-violence stance and is a vocal peace activist.
While those issues were never addressed by Guinn during the campaign, at least one outside group targeted Fakhoury with mailers linking her to progressive Washington D.C. lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib among others.
Accountability in Government, Inc. targeted Fakhoury a well as council incumbents Brent Malever and Jay Musleh. The group raised nearly $50,000 from Cone Distributing ($10,000), Honoring My Father LLC ($5,000), Florida Express Environmental ($10,000), Chad Christianson ($5,000), R. Thad Boyd III Living Trust ($5,000), Central Florida Gaming LLC ($5,000), Richmond Hill Capital Partners ($7,500) and Recharge LLC ($2,000).
The mayor’s position does not have a vote on the city council, but does have veto power and oversees the police department. The mayor serves a two-year term and the office comes with a monthly salary of $550.