354. 300. 307. 136. 308.
Those numbers are the daily totals for the first five days of early voting in the Jackson municipal elections.
That first number isn’t just people who voted on the first day of early voting, but absentee ballots, military ballots and those who voted in nursing homes before early voting began.
After Monday, a total of 1,405 of the 40,000 registered voters in Jackson have done their civic duty, let their voices be heard and had their say in local government.
That’s about 3.5 percent voter turnout so far.
Which isn’t the worst numbers in the history of voting I would imagine.
In 2011, Jackson’s election only got about 9 percent of voter turnout, so even while the numbers aren’t great, they’re still well on pace to do better than the lowest turnout ever.
Municipal elections don’t typically have a lot of voter turnout.
Apparently, most voters only show up at the polls when the President is up for election or the midterm elections are happening.
Sometimes the statewide races will garner some extra voter turnout, but usually if they do, the alleged experts about such things will credit the mid-terms or the Presidential race for getting people out to vote.
Last year’s Madison County primaries had a higher-than-usual turnout for voters, and there was some controversy as some in the local Republican Party was stressing over people who they think shouldn’t be voting in the Republican Primary that apparently were. That and a few inflammatory campaign materials that went out through the mail probably encouraged everyone to get out the vote.
So is that what this election needs? Controversy? With only three contested city council campaigns going on in addition to the mayor’s race, there are plenty of reasons for voters to get passionate enough to show up at the polls.
The three council races are interesting.
In District 5, we’ve got Frank McMeen and Tara Skinner running against each other. Both are well known. Skinner is a real estate agent who’s already on the Council, serving the rest of the term left vacant when Harvey Buchanan died in December of 2021. McMeen has been the president of the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation for more than two decades. Skinner lives in East Jackson. McMeen lives in Lambuth Area Neighborhood. Both are passionate about their respective neighborhoods and want to see Jackson grow.
In District 6, we’ve got the closest thing Jackson can have to a partisan election without actually officially becoming partisan. Byron Elam is a former chairman of the Madison County Democrat Party. Larry Lowrance is a former chairman of the Madison County Republican Party.
District 1 has gotten interesting as incumbent Sam Turner announced in March that although he’s on the ballot, he wouldn’t campaign for it since he plans to move to another part of the state. J.P. Stovall, who is running for the position, announced on his campaign page on Facebook last week that he’s been told Turner is in fact campaigning for the seat. Calls made to Turner’s phone have not been responded to, so that race could be heating up as we’re going into the home stretch of the final two weeks.
As far as the mayor’s race goes, at this point you almost have to try to be ignorant about the candidates for this race. There are plenty of public places to watch forums and debates with the candidates on social media. We did a forum a couple weeks ago, and you can go back and watch that on West TN PBS’ page and watch it broadcast on their stations. 96.5 and 95.7 have both done their own forums that are available on their Facebook pages as well. Also, local television stations WBBJ and WNBJ have posted interviews with all candidates as well.
The next four years will be important for Jackson. Don’t let the opportunity go by without having your voice heard as to who you think should be leading the city during those four years.
Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.