LAURINBURG — The 2017 municipal elections may be historic, but not because of voter turnout.
According to an electioneer Joyce Davis, there has never been a sheriff’s deputy the polling location for protection.
“Out of my 20 years of doing this, this is the very first time we have had to have a cop out here and that is ridiculous,” said Davis who is supporting Dee Hammond, for the at-large seat on Laurinburg City Council.
Election officials were concerned for the safety of voters and electioneers at the early voting site at the Scotland County Annex Building
“There was hostility at the very beginning of One-Stop Early Voting, but since we have had a sheriff’s deputy in place we haven’t really had any issues,” said Dell Parker, Scotland County Board of Elections director. “I was getting complaints that electioneers were not feeling safe and voters were not feeling safe coming up to vote.”
Through the eight days of early voting in 2015, 1,370 people participated. So far through 13 days of early voting this year, 1,940 people had cast ballots. A total of 169 people voted on Friday.
“When early voting first began, traffic was heavy but then the second week turnout started tapering off,” Davis said.
Justin Davis, an electioneer for council candidates Mary Evans, James Garby, and Frank Evans, said turnout has been strong because people are concerned about the direction of the Laurinburg.
“For this election right here for the city councilman … a lot of people have been voting because they want better things in this city,” said Justin Davis, who insisted on being referred to in print as Denzel Washington Jr.
Today marks the last day of two-week period One-Stop Early Voting. The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“I don’t think that it is a historical turnout this year. Sadly enough we cannot compare apples to apples because this go around we actually have 13.5 days of early voting, when in the past we had 8 days of early voting,” Parker said. “Does that mean we are going to have less people on election day? I cant answer that.”
In Laurinburg, there are a total of eight candidates running for city council, including three incumbents.
District 1 incumbent J.D. Willis will face a challenge from Mary Evans.
In District 2, incumbent Drew Williamson will face three challengers Frank Evans, Brian Gainey and George Medlock.
There is also a race for the at-large seat on council between incumbent Dee Hammond and challengers James Garby, Jr. and Roy Guinn.
The town of Gibson will have five names of the ballot this November, with incumbents Mayor Ronnie Hudson and town Commissioner Kenneth Haney as the only current officials who filed for reelection. Hudson is unopposed, but there are four people — Haney, Belton Chavis, Myra Tyndall and Adam Liles looking to fill the three vacant commissioner seat.
East Laurinburg has three people seeking the three seat on the board. They are incumbent Tyresa Haywood and Gail Chavis. Current East Laurinburg mayor, Wayne Caulder is also seeking a seat as a commissioner.
Joni Weatherford Giles is the sole candidate filed to run for mayor of the township, however, Marshall Stevens has been announced as a write- in candidate as of on Wednesday.
In Wagram, the ballot will be filled with familiar faces, since the only residents to file are incumbents, Mayor Milton Farmer and Commissioners Hyner Massey, Jr., Paschal Stewart, and Robert McLaughlin.
Maxton had three candidates file for town commissioner seats, which includes incumbent Virgil Hutchinson, Victor Reginald Womack, Sr., and Donna Locklear.
These candidates will be the only names to be printed on ballots, but voters will still be able to write in their preferred candidate if not already listed.
On Election Day — Tuesday — polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171