Our Opinion: Help choose local leaders in today’s municipal elections

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If you live in the city of Wilson or in one of Wilson County’s seven incorporated towns and haven’t participated in one-stop early voting, today’s the day to make your voice heard.

Forty-two candidates are on Wilson County’s municipal election ballots. The marquee races are for Wilson mayor and city council, with incumbent Bruce Rose facing a challenge from Carlton Stevens Jr. and Davonta Ferguson squaring off with District 4 incumbent James Johnson III, the mayor pro-tem.

In Wilson’s District 1, Gillettia Morgan expects to become Wilson’s only current councilwoman, joining an all-male governing body in the seat previously held by retired Councilman A.P. Coleman, a 38-year veteran. Brenda Avery also filed for the District 1 seat but has not campaigned due to health issues that materialized after the candidate filing period. In District 2, Councilman Michael S. Bell is running unopposed.

Wilson isn’t the only place where residents will weigh competing candidates and choose a mayor. In Stantonsburg, Councilwoman Coley Hunt Rhodes is challenging mayoral incumbent William H. (Bill) Edmundson. Longtime Saratoga Mayor Charles “Tommy” Hawkins faces John E. Cayton Jr., a former mayor and commissioner.

Lucama’s mayor will be determined by write-in vote following incumbent Jed Simpson’s resignation due to his relocation outside town limits. Commissioner Patricia Uzzell, who serves as mayor pro-tem, is the only candidate to publicly announce a write-in campaign for the seat.

Mayors in Black Creek, Elm City and Sims are running unopposed and are expect to cruise to re-election.

Lucama has the most crowded town board race, with six candidates seeking two seats. In Black Creek and Elm City, only one hopeful will lose the game of musical chairs with six hopefuls vying for five open seats in each contest.

Stantonsburg has three candidates in the running for a pair of board seats and Saratoga has four names on the ballot and three seats to fill. Sims has one unopposed incumbent and one unopposed candidate who filed for a vacant seat.

About 7.6% of eligible voters cast a ballot during the early voting period. That already tops the abysmal 6.83% turnout we saw in 2017 municipal elections, and this year’s figure will spike higher today with polling places open throughout the city of Wilson and in each town.

Twenty-three precincts will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today. To check the status of your voter registration and find your polling place, visit the N.C. State Board of Elections’ searchable database at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/.

The Wilson Times does not endorse candidates for public office. However, we do encourage everyone who’s eligible to research the candidates and vote your conscience.

Presidential and congressional controversies take up most of the oxygen in the room, but paradoxically, the local-level politicians many pay the least attention to are the ones who often have the greatest influence on our day-to-day lives. City and town councils set our property taxes and local laws, determine priorities for police and fire departments and decide how to invest in public resources like our parks and electric, water and sewer utilities.

Local elections matter. The decisions voters make today will help set the course for Wilson and Wilson County’s towns for the next four years. You have a voice in the process if you choose to vote.

Do your part today and help choose the leaders who will make decisions on your behalf. Elected officials may supervise city and town managers, police chiefs and other government employees, but they answer to you — their constituents. Collectively, you’re the boss. Go make some good hires.