May 7, 2013 10:35:40 AM
Elections are like muscles: They're not much use unless you exercise them.
Today across the Golden Triangle, voters have the opportunity to exercise one of our most fundamental rights as Americans.
Municipal elections are underway in Columbus, Starkville and West Point, where one mayor and a handful of aldermen/councilmen/selectmen will be chosen. A few races may go to a run-off May 21, and the final slate of officials will be completed with the general election on June 4.
Since not all wards will feature elections today, not all voters will be going to the polls.
In Columbus, only voters in Wards 4, 5 and 6 will cast their ballot and the issue will be settled in Wards 5 -- where incumbent Kabir Karriem faces Kenneth McFarland -- and Ward 6 -- where incumbent Bill Gavin takes on Whirllie Byrd. In Ward 4, a run-off is a distinct possibility if neither incumbent Fred Stewart nor challengers Marty Turner or Maurice Webber can gain a majority of today's votes.
The Starkville elections are dominated by the mayor's primary, pitting incumbent Parker Wiseman against Mary Lee Beal in what has easily been the most contentious of the local races. The winner will meet Dan Moreland in the June 4 general election.
By the end of the evening, the Starkville Board of Aldermen will be set, with races in Wards 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7. Wards 1 and 5 featured candidates with no opposition.
Meanwhile, there is a general spirit of optimism as West Point voters go to the polls to choose a new mayor. Robbie Robinson and Darlene Cox meet for the honor of leading the city into the "Yokohama Era." While selectmen in Wards 1, 2 and 4 will be chosen tonight, there are three-candidate races in Wards 3 and 5, again creating the possibility of a run -off on May 21 to determine those races.
In Macon, Bob Boykin faces no opposition in the mayor's race, but there are four races for aldermen slots.
Given the highly-publicized, emotionally-charged mayor's race in Starkville, turnout should be high. The same goes for West Point, since all voters have a say in choosing a mayor.
In Columbus, where the mayor's race won't be on the ballot until June 4, only half the residents will have a reason to go to the polls.
We encourage all voters who have a stake in today's races to turn out and vote.
While municipal elections don't have the same natural appeal as national and state elections, you can make a strong argument that what happens in city hall has a more direct impact on the lives of citizens than what happens in Washington, D.C., or Jackson. The president or governor aren't likely to do much about that drainage problem on your street, after all.
What's more, it's another opportunity to get a little exercise, another chance to put those rights we claim to cherish through the paces.
The polls are open until 7 tonight.
Don't miss the opportunity.
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5. Kathleen Parker: What we will look for Monday night NATIONAL COLUMNS