Trussville stresses importance of local elections

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — Focus next year will zero in on political elections.

The federal primaries are in March 2020. The presidential election is in November 2020.  Those will garner the headlines and attention. But there will also be local elections sandwiched in between.

Trussville will hold a municipal election Aug. 25, 2020 to elect a mayor and five city councilors. The current administration, led by Mayor Buddy Choat, includes councilmen Alan Taylor, Zack Steele, Brian Plant, Jef Freeman and Perry Cook.

“All elections are important,” said Trussville City Clerk Lynn Porter. “Recent years have seen record turnout for federal and state elections, while voter participation in municipal elections has steadily diminished. It seems unusual that the government closest to the people is the one that is regularly overlooked.”

In the August 2016 Trussville municipal election, 5,235 votes were cast in the mayor race that featured Choat, Anthony Montalto and Gene Melton. Trussville has a population of more than 20,000 people.

“Your local government provides for your police and fire protection,” Porter said. “They provide for your park and library services. They pave your local streets and clean out your ditches and arrange for your garbage to be removed. In many cities, including Trussville, they provide significant support for local schools. In Jefferson County, cities are allowed to sell vehicle tags. These are issues that touch the lives of every citizen on a daily basis.”

Trussville City Hall (photo by Gary Lloyd)

At the federal level, the government deals with national security, national policy, international trade agreements, taxes and tariffs, certain aspects of school funding, and funds Medicare and Social Security. The state government provides for maintenance of state and interstate roadways, supports the prison system and court system, provides school funding, provides for Medicaid, promotes economic development, collects taxes and fees, and distributes a portion of these to the counties and municipalities in the state. A county government provides the sheriff’s department, for circuit and district courts, county roadways, tax collection, provides funding for schools, and offers services for vehicle tag renewal and driver’s license renewal.

Porter said qualifications for becoming a part of city government are simple. You must be at least 18 years old, a registered voter, have lived in the city at least 90 days prior to the election, and must remain a resident for the four-year term. A prospective candidate for municipal office may begin raising and spending money with intent to become a candidate one year before the election. There are strict campaign finance laws that must be followed once money is received or expended. The actual qualification period for municipal elections is “extremely short,” Porter said. This is a two-week period between the first and third Tuesdays in July. If you do not desire to hold public office, but would like to be a part of the process, there is always a need for poll workers, Porter said. She also said she can provide other election and campaign finance information and direct those interested to the forms and requirements.

“Every citizen is encouraged to participate in all elections next year,” Porter said. “For local elections, this may be as a candidate, a poll worker, or most importantly, by casting your vote for the candidate of your choice.”

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