Tuesday turnout should be example for next year’s city election

Published 4:33 pm Thursday, November 5, 2020

I’m sitting here at my desk and to my left is a large flat screen with a map of the U.S. with blue and red spots displaying which state went for which presidential candidate and a graphic showing electoral college votes for each candidate.

As I write this column, the election is far from over, and will likely be far from over even after the final votes are tallied and those totals released. We have already been subjected to accounts of claims of cheating and voter fraud and recounts have been demanded. Eventually, for good or bad, a winner will be declared, someone will be sworn in as the next president and we’ll all have to live with that individual’s actions over the next four years.

But I’m not going to comment on the election from the standpoint of who won what and what may or may not happen. I am going to talk about the amazing turnout not just in Warren County but in Mississippi and the rest of the country.

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This election brought the voters out. Whether they were voting for change, voting to keep the status quo or whatever their reason, people went to the polls and voted.

For the first time in a long time people went out and got involved in the process, whether through absentee voting, early voting, mail-in, curbside, or getting off their duff and going to the polls, they cast a ballot and made their voice heard, whether the person they voted for got elected or not.

Tuesday’s turnout was the type of voter response election officials — whether national or local — hope to achieve every election. It’s a shame the inspiration for this year’s turnout was spurred by what many may call divisive issues, from personalities to tragedies that elicited responses. What we need to see is the same voter turnout when the issues are less divisive.

Still, it was good to see people getting out and taking the time to make their choices known.

And you would think this election with all its drama and expected controversy will be the last for a long time. Not quite.

We start over again in January, this time in the city of Vicksburg. For people inside the city limits, 2021 is municipal election time and the members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are up for election with qualifying starting in January.

While the national elections are important, our city elections are more important because the actions the board takes each time it meets hits us personally.

The members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are the ones who ensure the water, gas and sewer systems operate properly, make sure our streets are passable, that we can walk our streets and live in our homes safely, that the parks where we and our children play are safe and well-maintained, and far more.

To quote from former Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, “All politics is local.” And that is especially true in municipal government. We have more access to our local officials than we will ever have to a U.S. senator or congressman or even a state official.

That’s why our local election next year is so important, and it needs the same turnout we had Tuesday. Think about that over the next few months.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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