Election turnout disappoints City Council candidates

adouglas@heraldonline.comOctober 18, 2013 

  • If you vote

    Polls for the run-off election for the Ward 5 seat on the Rock Hill City Council will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 29. All registered voters living in Ward 5 are eligible to vote.

    Voters will be asked to show a photo identification. Provisional ballots and more information about voting without a photo ID will be available at the polls.

    Acceptable forms of identification are:

    • S.C. driver’s license

    • ID card issued by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

    • S.C. voter registration card with photo

    • Federal military ID

    • U.S. passport

    For information, call the county elections office at 803-684-1242, or email elections@

    yorkcountygov.com

    Voters can check their registration status and find other information online at scvotes.org.

The three candidates in Tuesday’s election for the Ward 5 seat on the Rock Hill City Council all said they were disappointed by the low voter turnout.

Just 423 people – 6 percent of Ward 5’s more than 7,000 registered voters – cast ballots this week.

In the last Rock Hill City Council election in 2011, about 16 percent of the nearly 6,500 registered voters in Ward 2 – the only contested seat – cast ballots. In 2009, just 4 percent of registered voters participated when Jim Reno was the only incumbent facing opposition.

Ward 5 includes many homes and businesses along Albright Road and Saluda Street and near South Pointe High, Saluda Trail Middle, Oakdale Elementary and Sylvia Circle Elementary schools. Parts of Crawford Road, Heckle Boulevard and downtown Rock Hill also are within the district.

Nikita Jackson, 40, a sales associate at Agape Medical Mart, emerged as the front-runner heading into an Oct. 29 run-off election. Ann Williamson-Morrison, 68, a retired flight attendant and teacher, will join Jackson on the run-off ballot.

Just 12 votes separated the two women after Tuesday’s results were certified by county election officials on Thursday.

Mildred A. Moore, 64, a retired teacher and English professor, came in a close third, just three votes behind Williamson-Morrison.

Jackson and Williamson-Morrison are competing to replace Councilman Osbey Roddey, who is retiring after 24 years on the council.

Officials recounted all of Tuesday’s votes on Thursday because the race was so close:

• Jackson received 150 votes (35 percent).

• Williamson-Morrison received 138 votes (33 percent).

• Moore received 135 votes (32 percent).

Because no candidate received more than half of the votes, the top two contenders will compete again to represent the southern Rock Hill district.

The ward’s voter turnout this week is a concern, Moore said. Even if she’d fared better in the election, she still would have been disappointed by Tuesday’s turnout.

Moore – who won one precinct, at Northside Recreation Center on Annafrel Street – said she will not endorse a candidate in the run-off.

Participating in elections is one way to have your voice heard, said Williamson-Morrison, who also expressed disappointment with the voter turnout.

Williamson-Morrison carried the two precincts that had the most voters this week – Rock Hill No. 2, which voted at City Hall; and Rock Hill No. 8, which voted at The Children’s School at Sylvia Circle.

Jackson and Williamson-Morrison tied at the Rock Hill No. 6 precinct, which voted at the Parent Smart office polling place on East Black Street.

Jackson said she’s ready for a run-off and excited she led the pool of candidates on Tuesday. Still, the low turnout was disheartening, she said.

She hopes this week’s showing will motivate more people to vote in the run-off, and she plans to campaign until then to try to encourage voters to show up.

Some voters in Ward 5 might have become apathetic because they don’t believe things can improve for them, Williamson-Morrison said.

But she still wants to be “their voice,” she said.

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols and councilmen John Black from Ward 4 and Reno from Ward 6 ran unopposed for their council seats.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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