HomeNewsOPINION: The time to cast votes is coming soon

OPINION: The time to cast votes is coming soon

The candidates for Jackson Mayor should be commended for showing up at The Post’s Jackson Mayoral Forum on Tuesday night.

The thermostat in Ayers Auditorum in the McWherter Center on Jackson State Community College’s campus wasn’t set to cool down as early as planned, which caused for a set of circumstances in which the five attendees – Ray Condray, Mayor Scott Conger, Daryl Hubbard, Lisa Williams-Lyons and Jerry Woods – sat on the hot seat literally and figuratively.

Each of the candidates gave thoughtful answers to each question that was posed to them, and any undecided voters who want information on which one to choose once they’re standing at the ballot machine can go back on West TN PBS’ Facebook broadcast or watch one of 10 broadcasts on PBS in the next four weeks to check out their answers to those questions.

And informed voters are one thing that’s needed for the upcoming election.

Early voting is set to start next Wednesday (April 12) at the Election Commission offices at 311 North Parkway across the street from the Jackson-Madison County Schools Central Office.

Along with the mayor’s race, there are two contested races for City Council.

District 5 pits Tara Skinner – the incumbent for District 4 but will be moving districts because of redrawn district lines last year – against Frank McMeen.

Then in District 6, Byron Elam and Larry Lowrance are both running for that office.

All four of the candidates are known people in Jackson.

Skinner has been on the Council for nearly a year-and-a-half after being appointed to the seat left open by the passing of longtime Councilman Harvey Buchanan.

McMeen has been the president of the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation for more than 20 years, leading fundraising efforts for that fund and its numerous subsidiaries over a couple of decades.

While the City’s elections are non-partisan, the District 6 ballot looks partisan. Elam is a former chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party. Lowrance is a former chairman of the Madison County Republican Party.

Both candidates have said that their election isn’t about their party affiliation as much as it is about Jackson itself and their specific district, but assuming the bulk of each of their votes will be coming from the party they’re each registered in isn’t unreasonable.

But hopefully voters will try to be more informed about each candidate’s views, plans, hopes and dreams before making a choice when they vote.

This is the final edition before early voting starts next week, so learn a lesson from me.

The last few years, I’ve typically voted early in a simple process at Medina City Hall in which I walk in, sign my name on the sheet they give me to sign, take my card to the machine, listen to the instructions reminding me how to use the machine, select my candidates, double-check them to make sure my votes are correct, hit the red button, get my “I voted” sticker, make a couple of jokes with the poll workers that were a lot funnier in my mind than they were verbalized and then head to work. It’s a process that takes less than five minutes.

I didn’t vote early last November, and I severely underestimated how many people would want to vote in a mid-term election in Medina on a Tuesday night in the fall.

The wait was more than an hour, and the lines looked like the lines at Burger King when a bus-full of students on their way home from a band competition stops at the establishment, ,winding up and down the hallways and throughout the main room where the voting machines were.

So early voting happens at 311 North Parkway from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturdays from April 12 until April 27. Election Day is May 2.

Thanks to all candidates willing to lead and serve their town. May the best candidates win so Jackson can prosper.

Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at brandon@jacksonpost.news. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.

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