January 8, 2021 10:56:29 AM
Much as it is with the weather, citizens often talk a great deal about local government, but few do anything about it.
If municipal elections were held today in Columbus, Starkville and Caledonia, there wouldn't be much of a choice to make. In Starkville the "race" for mayor and each of the seven positions on the board of alderman would feature only one name on the ballot.
It's even worse in Columbus, where as of Thursday there was one more position available than there were candidates to fill the positions. Caledonia is in the same position.
Fortunately, as of today, there are four more weeks for candidates in these municipal elections to qualify for these positions.
In Starkville, Mayor Lynn Spruill and incumbent aldermen Ben Carver, Sandra Sistrunk, Hamp Beatty, Henry Vaughn and Roy A. Perkins face no opposition now. The two aldermen positions that will be vacated by incumbents David Little and Jason Walker each have one candidate.
In Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, along with councilmen Joseph Mickens and Stephen Jones have qualified while councilmen Pierre Beard and Bill Gavin have yet to decide if they will run again. Council member Ethel Stewart has not announced her intentions.
Ward 5 councilman Charlie Box said he will not run.
As of now, there are no other candidates in any of the races.
In Caledonia Mayor Mitch Wiggins will run for alderman while alderman Quinn Parham will run for mayor. Aldermen Tammy McCool and Matt Furnari will run again, but Bill Darnell and Tyler Brock will not.
With just one candidate qualifying for the alderman race, that leaves four candidates running for five positions.
It's unimaginable that candidates for all these positions will not emerge before the Feb. 5 qualifying deadline. Even so, the question is how many of these 21 races will actually be contested. Half? Two-thirds? Whatever the number, it's likely that some of these races won't really give voters anything resembling a choice.
We believe in healthy competition. Voters should have a real choice to make. Candidates with a fresh outlook and new ideas often pump new energy into local government. It forces incumbents to make their cases and be accountable.
There are qualified, public-minded people in all three cities who could perform a great public service by running for these offices.
Now is the time for those people to come to the aid of our communities by running for these officers.
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