Polls open today for municipal elections

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Voters can start casting their ballots today in the 35 municipal races throughout Wilson County.

Early voting runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through Nov. 3 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Wilson County Board of Elections office at 112 Douglas St. E.

Same-day registration is available throughout the early voting period for eligible voters with at least 30 days at their current address.

Wilson County Elections Director Rená Morris said there is a change this year for residents in Kenly and Sharpsburg, though. In the past, Nash County handled the Sharpsburg elections and Johnston County handled Kenly, but all Wilson County residents of those towns straddling county lines must vote within the county this year.

Both towns have more candidates than positions available. Two have filed for Sharpsburg mayor and four candidates for two seats on the Sharpsburg town council. In Kenly, three candidates filed for the post of mayor and six candidates are vying for two seats on the town commission.

The election competition is intense throughout the county as well, with less than half of the races uncontested.

In Wilson, Councilman Donald Evans is facing candidate Mark Aldrich in District 5 while Councilman Derrick Creech will have to fend off challenges from Johnnie Chestnut and Bill Darden to keep his District 7 seat.

The mayors of Lucama and Elm City are facing opponents along with three commissioners and five commissioners of the towns respectively.

Voter participation is expected to mirror the 2015 municipal election turnout at 23.4 percent, but officials have encouraged voters to head to the polls despite the absence of presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative contests on the ballot.

“Every election is important,” said Morris. “Local elected officials affect our lives on a daily basis and it is important to have a voice in who makes those decisions.”

For voters unable to vote in person, absentee ballots can be requested by mailing, faxing or emailing the request form by 5 p.m. on Halloween. Absentee ballots must be returned by 5 p.m. on Nov. 7 or postmarked on Election Day and received by Nov. 13.

For more information, visit www.wilson-co.com/departments/board-of-elections/.