Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

May 2, 2013

Election 2013: Early Voting

242 residents vote in first three days

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — As early voting for the May 11 municipal and school elections continued to gear up Wednesday,  candidate campaign signs appeared more and more in the forefront of prominent view.

As many as 242 early voters – 103 on Monday, 77 on Tuesday and 62 as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday – had graced the polls by mid-week, said City Secretary Betty Thompson.

“That's very healthy,” Thompson said. “That's more than its been in previous years.”

It has been speculated that increased voter turnout is due to the unusual nature of a three-candidate mayoral race. To that effect, signs for Jack-sonville mayoral candidates – incumbent Kenneth Melvin and challengers Rob Gowin and William Igbokwe – can be seen throughout the city.

Igbokwe has also been making many campaign posts on social media networks such as Facebook – which include a compilation of clips from the recent mayoral debate prepared by his campaign team. Gowin also uses Facebook as a campaign tool.

•  At 72, Melvin's platform largely involves the city council's accomplishments during his current two-year term, as well as the quality work of Jacksonville department heads such as City Manager Mo Raissi, Public Works Director Will Cole, and Police Chief Reece Daniel.

• Gowin, 44, is in support of area beautification and wants dramatic change in the way certain city departments treat citizens.

• Igbokwe, 23, is looking to connect voters with city hall in a big way and, among other things, make sure citizens benefit more from the city's balanced budget.

The two District 3 City Council candidates also have signs displayed very prominently throughout town.

Incumbent Councilman Bill Mc-Donald is running against challenger Phil Huttash, a former Jacksonville volunteer fire fighter who has owned Huttash Paint and Body Shop since 1983.

Like incumbent Mel-vin, McDonald also is running on a platform of continued service to the citizens of Jacksonville through the same kinds of decisions made during his current term.

Mc-Donald has said the council has started a number of projects he wishes to see completed under his watch.

As part of his platform, Huttash has said he is encouraged by news of an independent financial audit solicited by the City Council that indicates debt is down and revenue up in Jacksonville.

The challenger said he is looking as a candidate to maintain that trend as well as work to see work to see the city continue to prosper and grow.

District 1 incumbent councilman Hubert Robinson has filed for reelection and is unopposed.

Both cities and school districts throughout Cherokee County will hold early voting at local polling signs through May 7.

Incumbents up for reelection on the Jack-sonville and Bullard school boards are unopposed, so elections have not been called.

To vote early:

• Jacksonville municipal election – Jackson-ville City Hall, 301 E. Commerce, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

On May 2, extended voting hours will be held there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

• Alto election – Individuals can cast early votes at Alto City Hall for joint election called by the City of Alto and the local school district. Extended hours also will be offered during the election.

• New Summerfield – New Summerfield City Hall, 13280 State High-way 110. Those voting in the school board races will cast ballots at the school campus.

Extended early voting hours will be offered from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 2.

• Rusk ISD – Early voting will be held at the school administration building, 203 E. 7th, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

• Troup ISD – Troup Municipal Library, 201 S. Georgia. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Extended voting hours – from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. – will be offered May 6-7.

• Wells – School board elections will be held at the Wells ISD administration offices, 160 Rusk Ave.

Staff writer

Jo Anne Embleton

contributed to this story.