I frequently see disgruntled Romans complaining about this or that decision by our City Commission and think, “maybe this is enough and things will change.”
After all, I am often disgruntled myself and you good people read about why and how in my columns. I’ve written about decisions I’ve disagreed with and even offered alternative visions for how to address some of the problems we face as a community. Judging by how most of our commissioners vote, they aren’t part of my readership.
But each election year, few stand for election and fewer still changes occur in the makeup of our City Commission. Less than a decade ago, many of you will remember in 2011, we saved money by cancelling our city elections because there weren’t enough candidates to challenge each other! Thankfully, that’s changed and we have a healthy slate of challengers. There are plenty of choices for us to make, but now my fellow Romans, it’s up to you to vote and make some much-needed changes. Let’s talk about how.
Our city elections are kind of confusing, so let’s review them quickly. We have three “wards” in our city that are divided geographically by the rivers. The whole city votes for every seat, and there are three seats in each ward so the top three vote-getters win a seat. Think of it like three sets of musical chairs with three chairs in each. This year, Ward 1 and Ward 3 are up for election, meaning there are six seats available total. You can vote for up to three in each ward, but you don’t have to. You can vote for just one or just two or none at all. Remember, the more votes you cast in a ward, the more competitive it might be, so if you really like just one or two candidates, then only vote for them, voting for more might hurt their chances at winning. You can pick up to three in Ward 1, where there are five candidates, and up to three in Ward 3, where there are four candidates. Who are they? Glad you asked.
In Ward 1, all three incumbents are running for re-election. This includes Bill Irmscher and Milton Slack, who have both served multiple terms, and Sundai Stevenson, who is running for her second term after having won decidedly in 2015, and is part of the Save Rome Central Park push to elect new commissioners. Challenging is Jim Bojo, a retired guy from radio, and Mark Cochran, a local architect and founder of Cevian Design.
In Ward 3, Mayor Bill Collins and Craig McDaniel are running for re-election, challenged by local attorney and municipal court judge JJ Walker Seifert and political veteran Bonny Askew. Commissioner Evie McNiece is not running for re-election, guaranteeing that at least one of these challengers will be elected.
So, if you don’t like how the City Commission has done things, if you think they’re out of touch and want to see a change, read up on these challengers. Go to their websites. Read their interviews in this paper. Watch their interviews on Community Watch. Go see them at public events. Volunteer for their campaigns. And if nothing else, go vote for them! Election Day is Nov. 5. Make your voice heard.