November is just around the corner, which means the Richmond Hill municipal elections are, too. But you’d hardly know it without paying very close attention. Early voting began Monday for the only election taking place this year in Bryan County.
Two council seats and the mayoral seat are up for grabs this year, and only one race is contested. Incumbents Mayor Harold Fowler and council members Russ Carpenter and Van Hunter are seeking re-election, and well-known resident and political newcomer Johnny Murphy is challenging Hunter for the Post 1 seat he now holds.
With so little on the ballot, few registered voters are expected to bother. Four years ago, around 1,000 Richmond Hill voters turned out for what was a considered a hot election with all three seats contested, including two hoping to succeed longtime mayor Richard Davis. That’s only about 13 percent of today’s roughly 7,500 registered voters living in the city limits. That kind of turnout this year would likely be considered quite impressive.
And that’s unfortunate. It takes a special kind of person to run for office, and obviously not everyone is cut out for the job or more people would run. These folks, regardless of their political positions, believe they have the city’s — and its residents’ — best interests at heart. They want to work for an engaged community. But being engaged means more than just showing up at a City Council meeting when things aren’t going in the direction you’d like to see. It also means taking the time to cast a ballot.
And thanks to early voting, casting a ballot doesn’t get much easier. Early voting is up and running now through Nov. 1 at the John W. Stevens Wetlands Education Center in J.F. Gregory Park. The poll is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eligible voters may also vote by absentee ballot by picking one up at Richmond Hill City Hall or downloading from www.bryancountyga.org/departments/voting/docs/absentee_ballot_app.pdf.