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Election apathy even affects candidates
Because Gillsville post drew no takers during qualifying, special election must be set to fill seat
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Jeanne Webb, owner of the He and She Salon, cuts William Littlefield’s hair Thursday in Gillsville. Neither Webb nor Littlefield say they have been following local politics. The town has no contested races on Tuesday. In fact, it has no candidates at all for the Post 5 seat, meaning a special election must be set to fill the post. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

GILLSVILLE — When people come to Jeanne Webb to get their hair cut, they usually also get a little something off their chests.

Only rarely does the conversation come to politics in He and She Salon in downtown Gillsville. But when it does, the topic is mostly "how they're sick of (President Barack) Obama," she said.

There's no talk about the open City Council seat that drew not one candidate during qualifying in August.

"Women don't talk as much politics, as a rule, as men," said Webb, owner of the salon. "We talk about husbands, mostly, and kids."

Following Webb's rule on Thursday, William Littlefield couldn't keep his opinion on the national political arena to himself.

"I think he's a one-termer," Littlefield said of Obama.

But when it comes to local politics, Littlefield admits he doesn't have much to say.

"I know who the mayor is, that's about all," he said.

Littlefield doesn't really have to, as he lives just beyond the limits of the town's one square mile.

But Webb says local politics are an even rarer discussion in her salon than national or state politics.

"I've heard of (the city election), but I don't know much about it," said Webb, who added that she attended church with much of the council.

But even the candidates are lackluster about politics in Gillsville, it seems.

For the second election year in a row, Gillsville has had a difficult time finding candidates for the City Council.

This year, the council had three posts up for election. Two posts had takers: Jeffrey Dale qualified to run for Post 3 and Herbert Segars qualified for Post 4. But no one qualified for Post 5.

Something similar happened in 2009.

That year, no one stepped up to run for the Post 2 seat on the council for the November election; at the time, city officials said the phenomenon had never occurred.

Council members had to call a special election the following March to fill the seat.

Mayor Larry Poole says council members voted this week to get the ball rolling on another special election to find a new candidate for the Post 5 seat, which is currently held by Richard Ferguson.

Ferguson is not seeking re-election due to health issues, Poole said.

Poole said the repeated lack of interest in the city election doesn't bother him. A few residents have already approached the council about the Post 5 vacancy, he said.

"You would certainly want folks to come out and represent an area of the city, but then again, on the other hand, you've got a lot of people that don't really fully understand what's required and, I guess, to a certain extent, they are probably not aware of the time commitments," Poole said.

But others just choose to stay out.

LaJane Ervin, whose home is behind Webb's downtown salon, once talked to her husband about getting involved in local politics after they moved to Gillsville 33 years ago. But on Thursday, Ervin wasn't even aware of upcoming municipal elections.

"I said, ‘Why don't we get involved and start going to the council meetings,'" Ervin recalled of the conversation she had with her husband more than 30 years ago. "He said, ‘I'm not getting involved in that.' So he didn't get involved and I'm not, either."

Webb said she purposely doesn't pay attention to local politics to "keep the peace."

"I have to work here," she said.

 

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