It came down to the wire in many cases, but it seems Sampson municipal citizens, particularly those in its smallest towns, will have ample selections to choose from come election day this November.
This is the year when mayoral and town council seats are up for grabs and, with few exceptions, there will be contested races across the county — only incumbents are running in the city of Clinton and in the town of Harrells, while in Newton Grove and Turkey only two people have filed for the two available commissioners seats in each municipality. Only one person, Joe Warren, has filed for the mayor’s seat in Salemburg, being relinquished this year by long-time leader Bobby Strickland.
But there are contested mayoral races in every other town — including a three-way race in Roseboro, and two-way races in Autryville, Turkey, Newton Grove — and races with two or more commissioners in Garland, Autryville, Roseboro and Salemburg.
Harrells and Clinton, however, are the only areas where no contested races exist.
It appears, at least, that residents took to heart our plea for participation in all-important municipal elections, where in past years extensions have been granted just to get enough people to fill the expiring terms. Not so this year, more a testament to constituents’ interest in public service than a reflection of the incumbents, some who are choosing to run again, others who have taken their hat out of the political arena.
The slate of candidates will, no doubt, make for an interesting fall, as political hopefuls begin to lay the ground work for campaigns we can only hope residents will pay attention to as they begin to mull their November election decisions.
Make no mistake, these are all important choices, with much at stake. They are just as important as the choices we make for state and national lawmakers, in many cases perhaps more so. The mayors and commissioners who will be elected in November will determine whether water, sewer and garbage fees will increase each year; they will hold the key to zoning regulations; they will set town tax rates; they will, in essence, hold the key to growth and change in the towns many of us call home.
It’s why we encourage wise and informed choices, and it’s the reason we ask that residents begin doing their homework now, looking at the voting records of incumbents and searching out as much information as possible about the newcomers hoping to unseat them.
Half the battle has already been won now that we have a full slate of candidates across Sampson County in which to choose. But just having individuals willing to run is not enough. Informed choices and actually making those choices come election day is the second half, and must be accomplished for the sake of our towns and the county as a whole.
Some might say it’s too early to begin considering November decisions, but we would disagree, arguing that one needs as much time as possible to make the most important decisions we face.
Electing good, wise, prudent and informed leaders is one of them.