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Election hardly noticed by Lula residents
City clerk says she doesn't 'expect too big a turnout'
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Lula candidates

Occupation: Retired
Political experience: Lula City Council, eight years
Education: North Hall High School
Family: Wife, Evelyn; daughter, Tammy
History in Lula: Fourteen years in Lula

Occupation: Supervisor/retail
Political experience: Started subdivision homeowners association, attend many City Council meetings
Education: High school; cosmetologist, management classes
Family: None
History in Lula: Five years in Lula

Click here to see the 2011 Election Voters Guide

Heather Stephens lives in Clermont but, in her own words, for eight hours a day, she's a Lula resident.

As the face of Blue Cow Creamery and Deli, Stephens hears a lot of the local people talk.

And no one — not even the candidates — in the cafe has been in to talk about the upcoming city election in which Veneda Simonelli challenges incumbent Larry Shuler.

"I have my usuals that come and talk about things, and (the city election) hasn't come up," Stephens said.

That may be because Shuler, who is seeking his third term on the Lula City Council, is taking a passive approach to campaigning.

"I haven't campaigned any," Shuler said. "I said ‘the people can look back at my record for eight years and see what I've done. Then if they don't think if I've done a good job, then they can vote for the other party.'"

When Shuler first ran for the Lula City Council eight years ago, he'd lived in the town about as long as Simonelli has now.

Simonelli says she first took a step toward Lula leadership when she moved in to her subdivision five years ago and tried to head a homeowners' association.

But after the other homeowners didn't want it, Simonelli decided she'd try her ideas on for size in the City Council.

She signed up to run when she didn't think Shuler was running for re-election.

"I just thought ‘it's all fresh, new ideals, it's something different and I want to be involved,'" Simonelli said.

A lot of the downtown business owners live outside the city's limits and can't vote in Tuesday's election, they told The Times this week.

But from his auto parts business on Main Street, 86-year-old Roy Gowder has watched the happenings in Lula since 1972.

"When Henry Miller used to be the mayor, I'd say the best-run outfit was back during his administration," said Gowder of the mayor whose administration was responsible for eliminating Lula's property tax. "He probably did more with what he had to do with than anybody."

Even though he can't vote Tuesday, occasionally Gowder makes his way to the council meetings when something on the agenda might affect him or someone asks him to go.

"I've been to very few City Council meetings," Gowder said.

That's the way it happens with most residents in Lula, according to the way City Councilwoman Vicky Chambers tells it.

Residents attend council meetings "only when it's in their backyard," she said.

"It's typical, you know, if there's something that's controversial and it is in their backyard then we have a room full," Chambers said.

"In general, we may have one or two at a meeting, and those are usually people who are interested in running or they usually have a complaint or something going on."

It's the same way with voters.

In the 2009 Lula election, when both Chambers and Mayor Milton Turner faced challengers, fewer than 300 residents voted, according to previous reports in The Times.

Lula's City Clerk Rosemary Totting said she expects fewer than 100 of Lula's 1,241 registered voters to show up to vote for Tuesday's city election.

She figures numbers will be down over the 2009 election since only one post has a contested race.

"I don't expect too big a turnout," she said. "I hope I'm wrong.

Harold Caudell, who chatted at Ricky Redmon's Garage, said he was going to vote Tuesday, because it was something "you gotta" do.

In 2009, Chambers' re-election was decided by eight votes. Turner won re-election with 51 votes.

Caudell imagined this year's election wouldn't be much different. Chambers, too, says the deciding factor will be the turnout.

"It'll be a close race, I guess," Caudell said. "Let the best man or woman win."