Only 17 percent of Jennings citizens care about their city
by ALLISON CRYER
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Jennings is around 10,383.
Of those 10,383 citizens, there are currently 6,423 who are registered voters, or 62 percent of the population, according to the La. Secretary of State’s Office (SOS). That means only a little over half of the total population of Jennings has the potential to make decisions about how our city is run.
Sadly, an even smaller percentage of Jennings voters turned out this past weekend to choose the city’s next mayor. Overall voter turnout for the Jennings mayoral election landed in at only 28.2 percent of registered voters in the city, or 1,814 votes, according to unofficial results from SOS.
The only item on the April 6 ballot was the race for the city’s mayor. According to SOS, Jennings Mayor Terry Duhon retained his seat, earning 55.9 percent of the vote, or 1,014 votes, beating his opponent by only 214 votes, or two percent of the population.
That means only a little over 17 percent of the total population of Jennings had a say in making a decision that affects 100 percent the city’s populace.
Apparently, only 17 percent of Jennings citizens actually care about their city, and I find that number to be disappointing. I am not saying I disapprove or approve of the results of this election, just that the overall turnout could have been a lot higher.
I have always believed that Jennings boasted a civic-minded population, but it is sad that only 1,814 people out of over 10,000 could be bothered to drive the five minutes it takes to get anywhere in Jennings to vote at their precinct or even during the week-long early voting period. I mean seriously, when I voted, it took less than five seconds to cast my vote for the only item on the ballot.
Unlike the president, our city’s elected officials make decisions that have a direct affect on our daily lives. They are responsible for the city’s prosperity and growth, as well as maintaining our streets, drainage, sewer and water systems and many other services that we could not do without. Yet voter turnout in the Nov. 6, 2012 presidential election was close to 65 percent.
So the next time you call to complain about something the city is doing that you don’t like, ask yourself, did you take the time during the 80 hours of available voting time to make your voice heard, or did you decide to sleep in instead?
So enough with the excuses – I work ridiculous hours, but still found the time to vote. However, I guarantee I will not have time to hear any of the 83 percent’s complaints about our city. If you call either myself of my witty Assistant Editor Sheila Smith to complain, you will definitely get the response first uttered by the viral sensation Sweet Brown: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
If you are not yet registered to vote, do so today so you don’t have an excuse next time an election in your area occurs. Anyone not yet registered to vote may do so by contacting the Jeff Davis Registrar of Voter’s office (ROV) at (337) 824-0834 or visiting SOS’s website at http://www.sos.louisiana.gov. Qualified voters can even sign up with ROV to have a ballot automatically mailed to their home. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Also, it is very important to update you address with the registrar’s office so when election day arrives you will be prepared to share your voice in the decisions being made that directly affect you and your household in the appropriate jurisdiction.
If you are already registered and you did not vote, I challenge you to vote in the next three consecutive elections.
Our city council elections will be held sometime this fall. These positions wield as much power as the mayor when it comes to maintaining and developing our city and these elections are equally as important, if not more important than a presidential election.
Let’s prove in the next three elections that more than 17 percent of us care about our city. While we may never get to 100 percent overall voter turnout in our city, I am positive that we can do better than 28.
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