editorial (2005-38)

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For Your Own Sake and the City’s, Vote

The turnout so far has been embarrassingly low

For Your Own Sake and the City’s, Vote

Voters have stayed away from the early voting sites in the Sept. 27 City Primary Election in droves, despite the ease and convenience offered them by the Knox County Election Commission. Only about 1,000 of the city’s tens of thousands of registered voters have taken advantage of that opportunity before Sept. 22, the last day of early voting.

That’s a pathetic reflection of apathy that can be rectified only by going to the polls on election day, if you don’t get out and vote Sept. 22,at one of the six sites around town. Either way, the City Primary is important to you and to the rest of the citizens of Knoxville.

You—possibly very few of you—will determine the likely candidate to represent your Council district for the next four years, meaning that the city’s business could be in the hands of Council members beholden to only tiny minorities, if the apathy holds through the election.

Of the 120,000 voters in the city registry, an estimated 85,000 are still eligible, according to Greg Mackay, the Election Commission’s administrator of elections. He says that, taking out the 5th District, whose representative won’t be decided this year, there are about 65,000 to 70,000 voters registered to cast ballots in the five districts on the Sept. 27 ballot.

Those primary voters will establish the favorites for election from their districts in citywide balloting in November, and the responsibility for setting the districts’ preferences falls on them.

Everyone who has ever had, or who might expect someday to have, a beef with city hall has gained the right to raise that beef if he or she votes for a Council candidate who can then be expected to stand up for the voters in his or her district. If you don’t vote, you have no standing to complain or promote or petition.

In these primary races, Metro Pulse has endorsed four candidates. They are:

2nd District—Barbara B. Pelot

We published those endorsements and our reasoning behind them Sept. 8. We did not endorse in the 1st District, simply because incumbent Joe Hultquist is running for reelection unopposed.

But whether you choose to follow our recommendations is not the issue. The future of the city’s direction will be determined by the five people selected this year to work with the mayor and the other fourmembers of Council over the coming four years.

The daily newspaper in Knoxville chose not to endorse in these primary races, leading one Council incumbent to conclude that voter turnout, if as low as seems possible now, might have been held down by the daily’s indication that this part of the election process is somehow less important or even unimportant. The News Sentinel will endorse its slate in the General Election, but that does not mean that the Primary isn’t important to district voters.

It’s nearly impossible for us to conceive how citizens will turn out by the tens of thousands, locally, to vote for the president of the United States or the governor of Tennessee, officials who may have very little direct impact on their lives in comparison with the members of Council, who help direct and finance the most basic of services that affect every city dweller directly.

If you want Knoxville to be your city, and you want it run the way you’d like to see it run, you have no choice but to cast your vote to help select your district’s representative on Council.

Go vote today, or by all means get to your precinct’s polling place on election day next Tuesday.

City voting and polling place information is available from the Election Commission by  phone at 215-2480 or by visiting its website at www.knoxcounty.org/election .

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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