Where were the voters of Weirton?

Weirton held its primary election this past Tuesday, although, judging by the voter turnout, not many people knew that…or cared.

According to the unofficial tallies — which included early and absentee ballots — only 1,542 people took time to let their voices be heard. That’s a sad situation, and I’m not sure what the reasoning is.

Some people may suggest the majority of the city didn’t know there was an election. Perhaps they didn’t know where they were supposed to vote. This election has been promoted since early October when notices were sent out with information about the various deadlines for candidate filings.

Lists of candidates have been published, there was a candidate forum hosted by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce and held at the Millsop Community Center, signs have been appearing throughout the city and a list of polling locations was published in this newspaper last Sunday, as was a reminder on everyone seeking office and the fact the election was to be held on Tuesday.

The local television stations did their own news reports to preview the election.

Notices were placed on the city’s website and social media pages.

In essence, there was no shortage of promotion.

There is the possibility that maybe people just don’t care. Voter apathy has been a growing issue for years. Perhaps this is just the ultimate sign.

Then again, perhaps the low turnout had more to do with the candidates, or at least the number of them. There were, after all, only two races which needed to be determined — those of Ward 1 and Ward 5 council representatives.

In Weirton’s primary election, the top two finishers in each race move on to the general election. Three council seats are unopposed this year, two only had two candidates as did the mayor’s race. Ward 1 had three candidates and Ward 5 had five candidates. Those fields needed narrowed.

But, since most of the city saw, assuming they knew about it, that their candidates would automatically move on, maybe they just didn’t feel a need to vote this time.

So, there is a chance for Weirton’s residents to redeem themselves. The general election will be held June 11. Mark that date down now, and make sure you know where you are supposed to vote. I’m sure we’ll have it all leading up to the election, but you can also contact the City Clerk’s office for assistance.

Voters will be asked to choose the city’s next mayor, between incumbent Harold Miller and challenger George Village. In Ward 1, incumbent Tim Connell is facing challenger Jonathan Curenton. In Ward 2, Mike Adams, who was appointed to the seat in August, will face Ralph Cunningham. In Ward 3, Fred Marsh, the incumbent is unopposed. The same is true in Ward 4 with George Ash and Ward 6 with Enzo Fracasso. Ward 5 will see George Charnie Jr. and Flora Perrone facing off to become the new council representative there, while Ward 7 will see a rematch from four years ago with incumbent Terry Weigel against challenger Shanon Schuetzner.

In addition to those offices, voters will be asked to determine the fate of 11 proposed changes to the city charter.

There’s a lot to review there, and we’ll be planning some detailed coverage on all of those issues over the next several weeks.

So, my advice is the same for any election. Pay attention, read up on the candidates and the issues that will be on the ballot, and then actually take the time to go to your polling location and vote. Don’t complain about the results if you can’t make an effort to participate in the process.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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