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Columbus Primary Election May 7 / On The Campaign Trail

Twitter/Vine @thejeffclark

Registered voters in three of the city’s six wards will take to the polls Tuesday to choose who will represent their ward at City Hall for the next four years.
The city’s primary elections will place Democrat against Democrat and Republican against Republican. Polls will be open for 12 hours, starting at 7 a.m.
The primary is the first election since the city shifted some of the population in its wards through federally-mandated redistricting. The redistricting, based on 2010 US Census results, was approved by the US Department of Justice in November 2012.
The DOJ plan left wards 1 and 2 untouched. In Ward 3, everything south of Hemlock Street and everything west of McCreary Street was moved into Ward 4, the city’s most underpopulated ward at the time of the census. The Ward 6 area south of Waverly Road as well as a block of Sixth Street North was moved into Ward 5. Ward 6 was the most populated ward according to the census data.
With the implementation of the new ward maps. city officials are hoping to see an increase in the turnout for Tuesday’s election.
“The voter turnout in 2009 was only about 23 percent,” said Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong. “No one can really predict the turnout for the May and June elections, and I’d hesitate to even venture a guess. General voter apathy in local elections is a sad trend across this state and has been for several years. Hopefully, though, this won’t be the case again here in Columbus in the upcoming city elections.”

On The Campaign Trail
By Jeff Clark

Well, it is finally here. And no, I don’t mean the highly anticipated “Iron Man 3,” but Tuesday’s primary election. It’s been a long campaign season. I remember when Mayor Robert Smith called me in January to announce his press conference to kick off his campaign for re-election. Actually, Smith told me in November he was planning to run for another term, as did all of the councilmen. There were some rumors at the time that Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem had aspirations for a state office. While I’m certain Karriem still has Jackson on his radar, he said he wanted to serve the people of Ward 5 once more. But if Rep. Esther Harris should decide to retire, Karriem will more than likely make that leap into state politics.
I remember when Ward 2 candidate Joseph Mickens tried to have his once and future opponent Susan Mackay removed from his district during the federally-mandated redistricting of the city’s six wards. Mackay threw her hat into the ring early and vigorously. She was the first candidate to announce her intention to run in the municipal election.
It’s been relatively quiet in the week leading up to the election. I expect the pace to pick up at tonight’s political forum.
I guess the biggest “foot-in-the-mouth” moment of the past couple of weeks was when Ward 4 candidate Marty Turner appeared before the Columbus Light and Water Board to request lower electric rates for the citizens of Ward 4. When one of the board members asked why he just wanted to lower the rates for the residents of Ward 4 and not all of the citizens of Columbus, Turner didn’t really have an answer.
Ward 4 saw the most interesting turn of events recently with a city-sponsored ward meeting last Thursday at the Municipal Complex. Although Ward 4 incumbent Fred Stewart did not participate in the meeting — he was in attendance —  some have said that it seemed like nothing more than a good old politically motivated meeting, using the residents of the ward as bargaining tools.. Ward 4 candidates Maurice Webber and Turner both went on the record and said the meeting was nothing more than a political tribute to Stewart.
I spoke with Smith about the meeting and he said it was not politically motivated.
“This had nothing to do with politics,” Smith said. “Fred Stewart didn’t call that meeting, I did. He had nothing to do with it. I called the meeting because a couple of the residents of Ward 4 kept coming to my office complaining about this and that and wanting to meet different city officials so I set a meeting for the whole ward. Those two citizens don’t represent all of Ward 4. I have my own campaign to run. I don’t have time to be worrying about the other candidates. I also can’t afford to make any of the candidates mad because I don’t know who I might be working with.”
In Ward 6 there was a bit of pettiness over some of incumbent Bill Gavin’s campaign signs. Gavin told me his opponent and fellow Republican Whirllie Byrd called Heritage Academy and the city regarding a sign Gavin has hanging near the Columbus Tennis Club. By the way, Gavin is one of the owners of the Columbus Tennis Club so he was, in fact, hanging his sign on his own property.
Allegedly, there has been some bickering going on between Ward 5 candidate Karriem and his challenger Kenneth McFarland over a radio spot Karriem is airing accusing McFarland of being a “Tea Party Republican.” The ad stems from something McFarland may have said on a local podcast or cable access radio program or blog. As the popular meme says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” Like Jackie Gleason said in the iconic ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ “I ain’t got time for no hushpuppies,” meaning Sheriff Buford T. Justice didn’t have time for nonsense.
Speaking of nonsense, there’s a letter making its way around town accusing Smith of being a bully and a meanie and blah, blah, blah. The “author” makes a lot of accusations about Smith but cowers behind anonymity. It’s the old “I’m going to tear Robert Smith a new one, but he’s not going to know about it” trick. The people that write letters like this are the same kind of people who post anonymously or under wacky user names on the internet. The worst thing about this letter is that it was written in dialect so that the white author could appear to be black. It’s ridiculous and disgusting. The letter is also making the rounds on the blogs and podcasts where Smith is the perpetual “boogie man.” Again, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Jeff Clark is the Managing Editor of
The Columbus Packet. You can email him at jeff.clark@test.columbuspacket.com/packet or follow him on Twitter or Vine at @thejeffclark.


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