Two factors again in play for Kingsport’s upcoming municipal election mean anyone can win — turnout, and the number of candidates on the ballot.
Sullivan County’s other two cities, Bluff City and Bristol, voted last year to move the date for their next municipal elections to coincide with state and national elections in November. In so doing, they not only eliminated the cost of separate elections, but will likely see a significant increase in turnout.
Kingsport had the same discussion last July with Sullivan County Election Commissioner Jason Booher but declined to increase voter turnout by Booher’s estimated 29% to 35% and save an estimated $30,000 to $35,000 by pairing city elections with state and national elections. Mayor Pat Shull supported the move, but aldermen were either opposed or indifferent.
Thus, turnout may again suffer this May unless you as a registered voter decide otherwise.
In the last city election in May 2019, only 5,745 votes were cast for five candidates for mayor. There are 31,566 registered voters in Kingsport. Shull easily won against four opponents, but other races were more competitive. But for 236 votes, Alderman James Phillips would have lost the seat he currently holds, and it was even closer on the school board where Todd Golden won his seat by just 80 votes.
The other factor is the number of candidates.
Kingsport’s city election is held in May of an odd year every two years to elect a mayor, three aldermen and two school board members.
This year there are three candidates for mayor, nine candidates for the three alderman seats, and six candidates for two school board seats. The more candidates, the more the vote is split and the fewer votes that are needed to win.
Our series of stories on where all of the candidates stand on various issues merits your close attention. It’s not just your privilege to vote, but to cast an informed vote.
Elections have consequences including an impact on your wallet. By not voting you give up your voice, thus allowing someone else to make the decision on who manages your community. Voting is your opportunity to change what you don’t like about local government.
Election day in Kingsport is May 18. Early voting is underway and will take place through May 13 at the Civic Auditorium on Fort Henry Drive.
For your benefit and the benefit of the Kingsport community, please make a commitment to vote this year.