At-large voting discussed at West Point City Council meeting

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, November 30, 2017

By Steven Thomas

The Valley Times-News

Just under a month after election night, the citizens of West Point are still concerned about issues they feel had an effect on the outcome, namely at-large voting.

The process allows for a much broader pool of candidates in elections but has been criticized for providing members that did not accurately represent the area.

During Tuesday’s work session of the West Point City Council, Ernest Ward commented that he, along with several other members of the community, were concerned at-large voting had had a negative effect on the recent election, noting Troup County had had a similar issue as well.

“I don’t see that [at-large voting] as your voice,” he said. “There are some broken places but we need dialogue and to build trust.”

Ward closed his initial comments by asking the council to look into the issue. A few minutes later, another citizen also brought up the issue, urging the council to look into the matter.

The issue was not brought up again until near the end when the mayor and council made their comments.

Ward, who noted that an earlier commenter had been allowed to question the board, asked if they were going to consider the issue of at-large voting.

Council member Dr. Joseph Downs said they [the council] would address the issue in due time and thanked Ward for bringing the issue to their attention.

During the discussion, low voter turnout was mentioned as another cause behind recent election results.

The Nov. 7 election saw Steve Tramell beat Deedee Williams for the mayoral seat by a small margin and Joseph Downs, Gloria Marshall and Henry Hutchinson win the three available council seats.

In other action, the council:

• Held a public hearing on the proposed 2018 budget.

• Heard and answered comments about recent statements over term limits and inconsistently applied and out-of-date policies.

• Discussed the earlier budget proposal but added nothing to it.

• Discussed the 10th Street property exchange between the city and Bethlehem Baptist Church for the purpose of expansion of the city’s retail area. Some concerns were brought forward about the history behind the exchange but the council deemed the concerns inconsequential.

• Discussed the West Point Development Authority Funding Agreement. There were no comments.

• Discussed the Downtown West Point Development Authority Forward Fund Application. City Manager Ed Moon noted that the city had the funds, supported by other monies, to go forward with the process.

• Discussed the Georgia Firefighter’s Cancer Benefit Program recently passed into law to help cancer patients. Moon noted it was not optional for the city to participate but that it would have not problem doing so.

• Approved opening up for applications to fill the empty seat on the West Point Development Board.

• Council member Sandra Thornton thanked community members that recently helped ring bells in support of charity and asked that anyone that wanted to help bag toys for needy children could do so on Dec. 9.

• Council member Gloria Marshall congratulated the Bulldogs from LeGrange for winning the recent 11-12 year olds Textile Bowl championship at Callaway Stadium.

  Mayor Tramell said the city would be featured during an upcoming Chic-fil-A ad Saturday, Dec. 2.