Updated editorial: A discouraging election

Josh Presley
DTL editor

Here we are about a week removed from the City of West Point’s Democratic Primary Elections. Since no one ran on the Republican ticket, Tuesdays’ primary was essentially our Election Day.
It took me a few days to gather my thoughts in any sort of logical pattern, but here we are. Better late than never.
I’ve heard more than my share of complaints about this election, and most of them centered on Election Day itself.
Before I get into the negativity, I’d like to congratulate the winners. Maybe some that I did not vote for wound up getting elected, but I wish them the best. Hoping for a selectman or mayor who so directly represents me to fail would be a fool’s errand. Same goes with our president. Same goes with our last president. Hoping our president fails means hoping our country fails. Just like hoping our selectmen or mayor will fail is like hoping our city will fail.
So, to the mayor and board, I wish you all the best. I hope your terms in office are successful, not for yourselves, but for the people of West Point. To my knowledge, everyone won fair and square (more or less) and I look forward to working with you during your coming four years in office.
However I did walk away from the Tuesday primary with a few issues, largely stemming from how the election itself was carried out.
Practically everyone I’ve seen on the always reliable Facebook has complained about the traffic flow at the Civic on Election Day. When I went to vote, I turned onto Fifth Street and came around from north side of the Civic building. I saw a perfectly unblocked and unoccupied entrance to the gate, and as I prepared to turn into that gate, a man jumped up and screamed at me that I would have to go to the next entrance. Now, I’m sure that fella was just doing as he was told so this is no fault on his part, but there were no signs telling people where they could park, and only allowing motorists into the one entrance created a bottleneck effect that, I’m told, slowed down the process the whole day and discouraged some from even stopping to vote.
Now, personally I’m in favor of the city having several voting precincts, but I understand the thought that went into having the voting take place in one building. So, if you know the Civic is all you’ve got, shouldn’t the Democratic Executive Committee work to make the process as painless as possible?
My next issue came after the polls were closed. My news reporter, Mary Rumore, and I went to the Civic to cover the election results after 7 p.m., when the polls were closed. We milled about a bit, and I asked Mary to get some shots of the onlookers waiting for the results to come in. In other words, we were doing our job.
She walks off to take some pictures, and returns a few minutes later with Jeannetta Edwards, chairperson of the Democratic Executive Committee. Ms. Edwards informs me that Mary cannot take pictures of the public election in the public building after the polls have already closed without a press pass. I show Ms. Edwards my own press pass (I wear it almost instinctively at large events) and assure her that Ms. Rumore is my reporter.
“Well, I know that Josh,” she said. “But all these people here don’t. They just see a girl taking pictures.”
“I’ve never had this problem at any of the county elections,” I responded.
“Well, this isn’t the county election,” she said.
“I see that.”
OK. The Municipal Election Handbook doesn’t mention anything about dealing with press, but I didn’t see the sense in arguing about it at the time, so I sent Mary home. No sense in both of us suffering through the agonizingly long counting process.
Later on, a WTVA camera crew showed up, and Edwards wouldn’t even let them in the door with a camera because they didn’t have a press pass.
So it seems to me — just my own personal opinion — that Ms. Edwards was doing her best to limit media presence, though with her arbitrary press pass rule, I was allowed to take pictures.
As a former editor of this very newspaper, she didn’t show a lot of respect for it.
Maybe I’m just projecting my overall disappointment with the election process onto one person, but in my defense, she did make it easy.
Regardless of who ran the election or who was on the ballot, less than half of the city’s registered voters even showed up to the polls. The people who did care about this election seemed to be pretty vocal, but the numbers show that the majority didn’t care at all. I don’t blame Ms. Edwards or any of the candidates for that.
I also don’t blame her or any of the candidates for the rather questionable qualifying process. Did you know one of the candidates was a convicted felon? The candidate said on the statement of intent that they’d never been convicted of a crime, and convicted felons are not allowed to hold certain public offices.
Is the Democratic Executive Committee at fault for this? A little bit. But the Municipal Election handbook offers no details or even suggestions of any sort of background check or vetting process. A representative from the Secretary of State’s office told me candidates weren’t even required to go through a background check.
So why bother asking on the statement of intent if the candidate is a convicted felon if you’re just going to take their word for it? The candidate didn’t win, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
Or, it matters to me, but not to the people in charge, it seems.
I know readers grew tired of some of my predecessors from other states criticizing Mississippi. Well, I’m from just up the road in Booneville and, yep, typical Mississippi.