JONESBORO, Ga. — Mr. Willie got out of the car and made his way over to the polling station. He was picked up by a friend that had already voted and dropped off at the Jonesboro City Center around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning so he could make sure his vote was counted. Willie has a prosthetic right leg and doesn’t drive too often.
Upon leaving the polling station with his Georgia Voter sticker in hand he said, “Ya’ll are lucky, because I was fixin’ to go fishing.”
Every votes counts on an Election Day that proceeded a record number of early voters in one of Clayton County’s oldest cities, Jonesboro. Along with three city council seats, there is a run for the mayoral seat, which happens to be occupied at the moment by the city’s first Black mayor, Dr. Donya Lyn Sartor. The mayor stood shoulder to shoulder with campaign volunteers and Asjah Miller, a first-time candidate for city council and public school teacher in the county, across the street from city center Tuesday morning. Despite a record 308 early votes having been casted already, Sartor was outside since early that morning making sure voters knew there was plenty of time and opportunity to vote before the polls closed at 7 p.m.
There was a previous record 251 early votes casted last March (only 186 votes were casted on Election Day) during the emergency election for mayor that Sartor, who previously served on the city council, won. She knows an election can be swung with only a handful of votes in Jonesboro.
“We are not taking anything for granted,” Sartor said. She wore a neon green “Sartor for Mayor” t-shirt beneath her coat. “That was our plan, we wanted to get people to the polls early.”
There are three women running for mayor this time around and one of those candidates, Pat Sebo-Hand, a member of Jonesboro City Council for 13 years, was holding her own grassroots voter drive up the street from where Sartor stood. Sebo-Hand is also optimistic about the voter engagement this year.
“I think we’re going to have more more voters this time, people seem to be much more engaged politically,” Sebo-Hand said. “Our municipal elections are usually less attended.”
Arlene Charles, the third candidate for mayor, drove by both women in a pickup truck with a large red, white and blue “Arlene Charles for Mayor” sign on the bed.
Former Mayor of Jonesboro Joy Day came from her home in Canton to show support for Tracey Messick, an incumbent and one of the five other people vying for the city council seats alongside Miller, Penny Fauscett, Charles L. Forsyth, Jr, Cameron Dixon, and another incumbent Alfred Dixon.
Day waved a sign and said hello to passersby. Messick remembers Day as one of the first people to recommend that she run for city council. “Having her support touches my heart,” said Messick, also an educator. “It means a lot to me and means a lot that she came down for this.”