It should be a large turnout next week as Jonesboro voters head to the polls to decide a city council race and on whether to repeal the city’s property maintenance code,
Craighead County Election Coordinator Jennifer Clack said Monday (May 2) she expects at least 10,000 voters to participate in the Ward 6, Position 1 special election as well as the property maintenance code repeal vote. The number would be on par with a special sales tax vote on street improvements last November in Jonesboro. During that vote, voters overwhelmingly turned down a 7/8% tax by a 3,968 to 2,709 margin, as well as a 1/8% tax by a 4,143 to 2,526 margin.
The Craighead County Election Commission met Monday to go over the finishing touches for the May 10 election. Early voting begins Tuesday (May 3) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and ends May 9 at the election annex on Jefferson Avenue in Jonesboro. Clack and commission chairman Jeannette Robertson said nearly 150 absentee votes were sent out in connection with both elections. As of midday Monday (May 2), 68 were returned to election officials.
Voters will decide the council race among five candidates: Bobby Long, Joseph Woodbury, James Bowman, Phillip Cook and Richard Wang. The five candidates have participated in a series of debates and forums in the past several weeks. In addition to a forum Thursday (April 28) sponsored by the city of Jonesboro, the candidates also debated issues Friday (April 29) at the NEA Political Animals meeting.
The debate Friday mainly centered around the property maintenance code. Long, Woodbury, Bowman and Cook have said they are in support of repealing the code, while Wang said he supports the plan. Supporters have said the plan, which tied 6-6 in the Jonesboro City Council and approved when Mayor Harold Perrin broke the tie, would provide teeth in existing city codes and would go after dilapidated homes throughout Jonesboro.
Opponents have called the plan “government overreach,” saying certain provisions including allowing code enforcement officers to go into homes, would violate the 4th Amendment protection over illegal searches and seizures. However, supporters have countered that a code enforcement officer must receive written permission before they can enter a home.
Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 10. Election commissioners also worked on preparations for a possible June 7 runoff on the council race. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to the runoff. However, a runoff can be avoided if a candidate receives at least 40% of the vote and leads the other four candidates by 20% or more, Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday said Friday (April 29).
All registered voters in Jonesboro are eligible to vote in the council race and repeal vote, officials have said.
The winner of the council race will replace longtime council member Tim McCall, who resigned earlier this year after moving out of the district. The person who wins the election will serve until Dec. 31, 2018.