Brownwood will have to wait until Saturday to see whether the municipal elections will result in a large turnout, but expectations are high. Interest in the issues addressed by the four propositions before the community has been high, and early voting numbers have been encouraging.
Early voting turnout is one way voter participation on election day can be predicted, but its growing popularity among voters sometimes represents more of a shift in the times people go to the polls. Nevertheless, consider: the 1,358 ballots cast during the seven-day early voting period for Saturday’s election is almost as many as those counted in the last police chief election in June 2006. That was a runoff for police chief won by Virgil Cowin when 1,436 votes were cast. In the May 2006 election, in which a five-candidate race for police chief was featured, just over 2,000 votes were cast.
In May 2007, fewer than 1, 500 votes were cast in a city council election that turned out three incumbents.
It seems likely that considerably more Brownwood voters will have been a part of the electoral process when polls close at 7 p.m. Saturday.
It is in the best interests of the community that a significant number — even a majority — of voters registered in Brownwood let their voices be heard at the ballot box.
The four propositions before voters ask whether the city will change the manner it selects its police chief from elected to appointed, or hired. The other three seek voters’ approval of using sales tax dollars already being collected to help fund a major Camp Bowie parks project. A strong turnout is needed to confirm that the election’s outcome represents the desires of the majority of the city’s residents.
The issues before voters have been discussed thoroughly in recent weeks — in public forums, in hearings at city council meetings, in letters published by the Bulletin and over restaurant tables throughout the city. On Saturday, the decisions will be placed in the hands of the voters. Every vote counts, and every eligible voter should participate.