Election Day has arrived for many in Southwest Georgia, including Albany and Dougherty County.
While the ballots may be slim in length in your community, we urge you to take time today to let your voice be heard in whatever election or referendum you are eligible to vote in.
Of course, some have already taken advantage of Georgia’s advanced voting period to cast their ballots. In Dougherty County, 1,935 voters — about 3 percent of the county’s registered voters — went to the polls to make their choices.
Dougherty residents have only one issue to decide: Whether to extend for five more years the special sales tax for education. Voters inside the Albany city limits will also get to decide that issue.
Also, everyone eligible to vote in the city of Albany will be able to help decide who will serve as mayor for the four years beginning in January, and whether the Sunday sale of alcohol by licenses businesses should be allowed. Currently, on restaurants can sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday, and those can only be sold by the drink.
In addition, voters in Albany Wards II, IV and VI will determine who will represent their respective wards on the City Commission. The Ward IV and VI elections are for four-year terms, while the Ward II election will choose a representative for the two years remaining on an unexpired term.
Over the weekend and on Monday, The Albany Herald Editorial Board gave readers our recommendations on the election contests and referendums that will be determined in Albany and Dougherty County today. Each endorsement was voted on by the six-member Editorial Board. We are reiterating those positions today:
MAYOR OF ALBANY: For the first time ever, The Editorial Board found itself deadlocked on two candidates: businesswoman B.J. Fletcher and retired educator and former Ward II commissioner Dorothy Hubbard. Both are worthy candidates who have Albany’s best interests at heart.
ALBANY CITY COMMISSION: We recommend the Rev. Ivey Hines in Ward II, incumbent Commissioner Roger Marietta in Ward IV and political newcomer Kowana McKinney in Ward VI.
ALCOHOL SALES ON SUNDAY: We believe this referendum should be approved.
SALES TAX FOR EDUCATION PROGRESS III: While we agree the projects that this five-year, $100 million extension of a special-purpose, local-option sales tax for educational purposes (STEP III) would bring are worthy, we believe voters should reject this referendum as a means of sending a message to the Dougherty County School Board and superintendent. The voters have a rare opportunity to make it clear that business as usual is no longer acceptable. The culture that has taken hold and has led to cheating on standardized tests, violations of the Georgia Sunshine Laws and looking out for pals instead of the students has to end, and school system leadership must refocus on what should be its only job — educating young minds and preparing them for life in a rapidly-changing world.
These are our recommendations, but whatever position you have on these contests and referendums, we hope that you will take the time — if you haven’t already — to participate in this incredible experiment we call democracy and vote. It is a right and duty that none of us should ever take lightly, and one that should be exercised at every opportunity.