Barely a dozen people traveled to the Columbia County Board of Elections office during the past four weeks to cast early ballots for Tuesday's Grovetown city council election.
That is not good news. As a matter of fact, it's downright pitiful. But there is still plenty of time to turn that apathy around with a more robust election-day turnout.
Two seats on the council are up for grabs. With just one challenger to the two incumbents, at least one current council member is guaranteed to return to office. In city council elections in Grovetown (and in Harlem), all seats are at large, and in Tuesday's election the two candidates with the most votes win. Each voter can vote for two of those three candidates.
Which two should win? The News-Times rarely offers endorsements in city elections. We do, however, heartily recommend the election of the one challenger in the race: Sonny McDowell.
This isn't because either of the incumbents deserve removal. Both Bruce Stoddard and Rosa Lee Owens are fine representatives of Grovetown's citizens. In fact, it's rare that the two vote in disagreement.
One of those rare times was just this past Monday when the council voted 3-1 to approve a property tax increase for Grovetown residents. Stoddard - undoubtedly with an eye toward next week's election - cast the lone vote against it, while Owens voted with the majority to approve the tax hike.
Paying city taxes in addition to county and school system levies, Grovetown citizens already pay the highest taxes in Columbia County. So even a very modest hike isn't likely to be popular.
McDowell didn't have a vote either way, but whether he'd be for it or against the hike is less important than his overall quality as a civic leader. McDowell had the vision to create the Grovetown Merchants Association as an advocate on behalf of the city's businesses, and later helped write the city's comprehensive growth plan. He's clearly accomplished more than most local politicians without benefit of office, and has earned the opportunity to lead at the next level.
In any event, with Grovetown continuing to lead the way in growth, it is vital that new and old residents alike take the time to cast ballots for leaders who can best position the city for handling the bright future of Columbia County's largest municipality.
It all comes down to Tuesday. Hopefully far more than a dozen Grovetown voters will turn out to cast those ballots then.
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