Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 26, 2013

Vote early — City balloting now underway

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— If you are a registered voter in Bluefield or Princeton, there is no excuse for not casting a ballot in the upcoming municipal elections. That’s because city officials are affording you multiple options to vote.

For starters, early voting is underway in both cities and continues through June 1. As long as you are a registered voter, you can cast an early ballot in your respective city. Voters don’t have to provide an excuse, or an explanation, for voting early. (Absentee voting by comparison does require that the voter meet certain qualifications.) Early voting is simply provided as a courtesy to encourage more registered voters to vote. And we would hope that citizens in the two cities would take advantage of it.

Early voting in Bluefield will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at city hall Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.

Early voting in Princeton will be held Monday through Friday at city hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and also from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 1.

It can be argued that municipal elections are as important — or more so — to average citizens than highly-publicized presidential or gubernatorial races. The reason: The decisions made by individuals elected to these local positions often have a direct impact on the citizens they represent.

The city council members who will be determined June 4 are the same individuals who have a hand in raising or lowering street fees within a small municipality, and enacting local ordinances that may mandate the upkeep of yards. Local boards — as recent headlines have illustrated — can even vote to ban specific animal breeds. These are the type of issues local mayors and council members address on a regular basis. And they are the very issues that can have a significant impact on the daily life of town residents.

Voters will face a full ballot in both cities.

In Bluefield, 12 candidates are vying for five seats on the Bluefield Board of Directors.

In district one, incumbent board member Mary Frances Brammer is being challenged by Rev. Garry D. Moore Sr. and Barbara Thompson Smith. In district two, incumbent Mayor Linda Whalen is being challenged by Steven P. Coleman and Ellen Peters Light.

In district three, Michael Gibson is running unopposed — although David Smith’s name will still appear on the ballot. Smith, a public defender, has withdrawn from the race. However, it was too late for his name to be removed from the ballot.

Five candidates are vying for the two at-large seats on the board. They include Thomas J. “Tom” Cole, Charles “Chuck” McGonagle, incumbent Pete Sternloff, Willie C. Hunt and Richard Lee Dillon.

In the city of Princeton, eight candidates are vying for four city council seats.

In ward one, incumbent Shawn Vest will face Jacqueline “Jackie” Rucker. In ward two, incumbent Marshal V. Lytton is being challenged by Ryan B. Blankenship. In ward three, incumbent Chris Stanley is being challenged by Jim Harvey. In ward four, incumbent Tim Ealy is being challenged by Andrea Washington.

Early voting is provided as a convenience to all voters. It is our hope that many will take advantage of it.

But most importantly — please vote. It doesn’t matter if you cast a ballot early, or wait until June 4 to vote, as long as you do vote. Both elections will have a direct impact on citizens of both cities. Please let your voice and opinion be heard. Don’t let this all-important opportunity pass you by.