If early voting tallies are an early indicator of turnout, Saturday’s municipal election should have a respectable turnout — at least by recent standards.
With several key races on the ballot, including a major road construction bond and the race for mayor, 648 people cast their ballots in early voting. For Place 1, where there’s a competitive race for the City Council seat, 299 people voted early. In 2019, just 326 voted in the Place 1 election for that saw Jerry Ransom, who is now running for mayor, retain his seat on the council.
Just how many people will turn out for Saturday’s municipal election is unclear, but in years past it has been poor. However, the fact that there’s a mayoral campaign, a $50 million road construction bond and competitive races for two seats may spark some interest.
The demographics of early voting definitely skew older with 70% of the votes cast by those over the age of 65. The oldest voter was 98, while the youngest was 20.
In the final hours of the campaign to succeed Greenville Mayor David Dreiling, Ransom has outspent and outraised his opponent and fellow member of the City Council, Cedric Dean by a huge margin, according to campaign finance reports.
I think I’ve highlighted some of the things that I’ve done,” Ransom said Tuesday night. “I’ve worked, really very hard on taxes. We’ve lowered the tax rate a couple of times.”
Ransom has spent more than $38,000 of his own money in the race against Dean, who spent $500. The two men will know how their investments paid off on Saturday when Greenville voters head to the polls.
“I’m confident about the race,” Dean said. “I think the citizens are going to come out and vote.”
While both are competing against each other, Dean and Ransom share one major concern for the city — roads. Greenville has been hit hard by road conditions that are impacted by the area’s soil, but the freeze of February exacerbated matters for city road crews.
In turn, the city is banking heavily that voters will approve another bond — after just approving a road bond in November — to take advantage of record-low interest rates to help rebuild roads across the city.
Ransom spent $10,000 of his own money to help raise awareness about the bond measure — mostly through campaign signs posted across the city.
In an April 21 campaign finance filing for mayor, Ransom reported having more than $8,000 cash on hand after spending more than $38,000 — almost entirely from his own funds. Much of the money Ransom had remaining was from campaign contributions.
In Dean’s campaign finance filing, he listed $300 in cash available for his campaign.
In the race to replace Ransom’s seat on the City Council, Terry Thomas and Brian Hudgeons have raised the most in the three-way race.
Thomas and Hudgeons had similar fundraising numbers — both raising more than $5,000 with expenditures topping $3,000. Challenger Ramon Rodriguez had raised about $700 in his April 1 filing, but he reported no fundraising in the final filing.
The winner for Place 1 will serve the remainder of the final year of Ransom’s term, and then face re-election in 2022.
In the race for place 6, none of the candidates — Bernardo Escobosa, Kenneth Freeman and Kevin Heath — have raised significant money. Escobosa and Heath have not raised or filed reports. Freeman’s campaign finance report shows no contributions or expenditures. This race will replace Dean’s seat on the seven-member City Council.
Ben Collins already won a seat for Place 5 when no one ran against him. Collins is replacing Brent Money.