Controversies Overshadow Local Elections; May Benefit Big Names, Incumbents

Time and distance isn't political newcomer Andy Nelms' biggest obstacle. It's the Ten Commandments monument and the Riley tax plan. They've been real distractions. He says the seat he's running for is vacated, so he doesn't have to worry about an incumbent. But Nelms feels that might be a problem for others.

Nelms and three others are running to replace Alyce Reynolds on council. Some, better known than others, but all of them need the one thing controversy prevents: exposure. Don Nolte ran four years ago. He says the political vacuum is less of a problem for him. He says he figured people would start looking at the election after September 9th.

Council candidate Norman Hurst also expects a bounce. He says, "I'm running a poor man's campaign. We're running from behind. I'm used to going the long way around on a lot of issue."

Even without all those other distractions, running in District Seven would be very difficult for anybody who doesn't have as much money or as much name recognition. That's because the newly redrawn district is now about 50% white, 50% black. And it's almost equally divided between rich and poor. And that means the next four weeks will more critical than in past election years.

There's one more complication for District Seven, and others districts as well. Because the city redrew some district lines last year after the census came in, some polling places may have ballots in place for more than one district. So, there may be some confusion come October 14th. That's why elections officials want you to pay close attention to those ballot location postcards you'll get.

WSFA was unable to get in touch with one of the District Seven candidates for comment. Martha Robey wasn't available.

Reported by: Chris Holmes