Adjusting the bond issue ballot

Published 2:11 am Saturday, September 12, 2009

SELMA — The lines are drawn over the $12 million bond issue in several ways, the chief being how the ballot will look to voters when they arrive at the polls Oct. 21.

“We would like to give everybody everything they want,” said Mayor George Evans of the ballot’s length and size. “We just can’t.”

Initially, the city had planned to list every item and its cost so voters could determine which they wanted to approve, if they chose the option of itemizing their votes.

Evans said the printed ballots cost too much and 50 items are too many for voters to handle.

So he presented the Selma City Council with a proposal of ballots that would show the breakdown of items by department and total money requested.

At the top of the proposed ballot, a voter could choose for or against all items and record the vote.

At least one council member, Bennie Ruth Crenshaw of Ward 8, said voters should cast their ballots for all the items on the bond issue or against them with no in-between.

“Either say yes or no,” she said.

The option to pick and choose will allow some voters to opt for pet projects that will benefit their neighborhoods while others “those usually left out,” Crenshaw said, won’t get enough votes.

Crenshaw has argued for the up or down ballot only since the second Town Hall meeting about the bond issue nearly more than a month ago.

Other council members, with the except of Sam Randolph of Ward 5 who habitually votes with Crenshaw, say they like the option of voting for the bond issue by department.

“I think that’s one of the things that killed the last bond issue,” said Ward 1 Council member the Rev. Dr. Cecil Williamson. “People want to see what they are voting for. I want to see what I am voting for.”

The last bond issue failed more than a year ago. Some of the same projects appear on this bond issue, but Evans was not mayor at the time. He was president of the city council.

James Perkins Jr. was mayor during the last bond issue election.

A majority of the council approved the mult-choice ballot last week. A sample ballot will be posted as soon as they are printed.

The election is set for Oct. 27. Absentee voting will begin Sept. 22.