Friday, May 29, 2009

EDITORIAL >> Jacksonville picks mayor on Tuesday

Jacksonville voters on Tuesday will choose a new mayor for the first time in nearly 23 years. There’s a great deal of anticipation about the outcome of this important contest as two longtime aldermen, Gary Fletcher and Kenny Elliott, head for the finish line.

They were the top vote-getters in the May 12 special election — Fletcher with 952 votes, and Elliott with 789 votes. Early voting this week has been steady, with some 200 people casting early ballots each day at city hall and a handful in Little Rock.

Fletcher and Elliott are both formidable candidates, having come out on top in a crowded field of four other candidates. Fletcher has the endorsement of realtor Beckie Brooks, who finished fourth, while Elliott has won the endorsement of Randy (Doc) Rhodd, who came in last with 16 votes.

The race could go either way. Just 183 votes separated the top two candidates in the first round, so it could be a close race next week. A few dozen votes might decide the outcome.

Voters should decide who will do the best job for the city, who will work the hardest to save the schools and the hospital, reduce crime, keep the special interests at arm’s length, encourage open government, discourage the flight of the middle class, maintain good relations with the air base and protect the environment by obeying anti-pollution laws. The list is long, but worthy goals for the city’s next mayor.

You can still go to the polls even if you didn’t vote in the May election. You can make a difference, especially in a close race. See you at the polls.