Hot Button Issues Spark Increased Voter Participation In Municipal Elections

By Barney Blakeney

At 7:40 a.m., less than an hour after the polls opened for municipal elections in Charleston County, Isaac Cramer and the staff at the Board of Elections and Voter Registration still were counting absentee ballots. The numbers were higher than those four years ago in the 2015 municipal elections. By 3 p.m. some 4,000 ballots had been counted. There still were others to be counted, said Cramer. That indicated more brisk voter participation this cycle than in the past. Voter turnout around Charleston gave the same indication.

At the polling station for Charleston precincts 11, 12, 13 and 21, former Charleston Dist. 9 Councilman Aubry Alexander stood outside with incumbent Peter Shahid’s Campaign Manager Maria Aselage where some 1,200 voters cast ballots by 1 p.m.

Further west Dist. 7 candidate Rev. Christian King spent the morning at St. Andrews Middle School on Wappoo Road where voting was brisk. Her opponent, Dist. 9 incumbent Perry Keith Waring earlier in the campaign expressed concern about voter apathy. Downtown Dist. 3 candidate Jason Sakran implored, “Today is the day. I realize in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, carving out an hour to vote can be difficult but today’s election will have lasting impacts on our daily lives. We need to pick the right people to represent us and must choose people who share similar values for our community. On this day, please exercise your right to vote and make your voice heard. If there is ONE thing you can do for me — please ask three people if they voted and get them to the polls today! Participation is the only way we will affect positive change.”

At 1 p.m. Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and wife, Sandy were in the car driving between polling places. “Everywhere I’ve been there’s been a pretty good turnout, larger than four years ago,” Tecklenburg said. “I’m very pleased. I like for our citizens to participate. The more people vote the better. I’m feeling good that people are participating.”

Despite negative campaign ads that exploited Tecklenburg’s role in the conservatorship for the late Mrs. Louise Wineglass whose funds Tecklenburg borrowed without explicit permission, the mayor expressed that a family member’s public endorsement of him helped clear some misconceptions.

Tecklenburg said he was asked by Mrs. Wineglass’ family to act on her behalf. In that role he realized she didn’t have enough personal funds to maintain her residence at a quality nursing care facility. The interest he paid on the loans he made to himself and his wife, some $9,000, enabled her to remain at the facility until she died, he said.

It was that issue and others which motivated the most voter participation in recent municipal elections, observers said.

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